Hearing Impairment and Fertility: Longitudinal Evidence from the World's Largest Hearing Study

Vegard Skirbekk
Bo Engdahl, Norwegian Inst of Public Health

Hearing loss (HL) is one of the most common functional limitations - according to WHO it affected 466 million people worldwide in 2018, and this number is projected to almost double by 2050. Having a family may be particularly important for this group; their health is according to earlier work more affected by the presence of a family than the normal hearing. We employ data from the world’s largest population level longitudinal survey with objective hearing assessments (HUNT; N=50,462). We find that fertility is considerably lower for both women and men with HL and this difference is greater among more recent cohorts: Among men born 1970, normal hearing individuals have 47% more children than in those with a severe HL, in women the difference is 17%. Childhood hearing loss is more strongly linked to fertility decline than adult HL – and this effect is more pronounced among women.

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 Presented in Session 119. Health and Fertility