Obesity as a Possible Risk Factor for Pediatric Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Andrew Bluher, Kosuke Kawai, Alicia Wang, Derek Stiles, Greg Licameli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objectives/Hypothesis: Childhood hearing loss impacts linguistic, academic, social, and psychologic development, and may have lasting implications for future workforce performance. Current evidence for obesity as a pediatric sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) risk factor is intriguing but equivocal. We hypothesized that obesity is associated with a higher risk of SNHL. We additionally examined whether underweight is associated with a higher risk of SNHL. Study Design: Retrospective database review. Methods: A single-institution audiologic database from 2015 to 2020 was queried for audiograms with type-A tympanograms from children aged 5 to 18 years old. Comorbidities known to be associated with hearing loss were excluded. We then examined both for sub-clinical (≥15 dB) high- or low-frequency hearing loss, and for clinical (≥21 dB) hearing loss, with the aim of examining the association between obesity and SNHL. Multivariable logistic regression was performed to adjust for age, gender, diabetes mellitus, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and autism. Results: A total of 3,142 children were included. Obesity was not associated with risk of SNHL (adjusted OR 0.82; 95% CI: 0.60, 1.12). Underweight children had a higher risk of SNHL than normal weight children (adjusted OR 1.78; 95% CI: 1.08, 2.95). Autism was significantly associated with increased risk of sub-clinical SNHL only (adjusted OR 2.00; 95% CI 1.34, 2.98). Conclusions: No association was found between obesity and pediatric SNHL. Underweight children may represent a higher-risk population for SNHL. There appears to be an increasing risk of SNHL as children approach adolescence. Further study of systemic risk factors for SNHL is indicated. Level of Evidence: 3 Laryngoscope, 131:1416–1419, 2021.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1416-1419
Number of pages4
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Pediatric sensorineural hearing loss
  • body mass index
  • hearing loss risk factors
  • obesity


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