Posted on Mar 04, 2014

Many babies have white noise machines in their rooms. But are they safe? Reports show that they might be harmful to a baby’s hearing.

Fox news reports on the issue of white noise machines affecting babies' hearing.

The reports state that if white noise machines are kept on a high volume they will potentially harm a child’s hearing indefinitely.

“The report's lead author from the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto told Reuters Health that people should consider sound in terms of dose. White noise machines, also known as sleep machines, produce sounds to soothe infants to sleep and help mask other noises. But noise can cause hearing loss at certain levels, and the ears of young children are different from adult ears. Higher-frequency sounds get amplified by their smaller ear canals,” according to Fox.

Babies obviously cannot communicate to their parents whether the noise is affecting their hearing, nor do they even have the cognitive capacity to realize this, which is why they sleep through it or do not cry as a result of it. The study’s authors gave an idea of what a safe level of exposure would be, “The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety and U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommend adults limit workplace sound exposure to no more than 85 A-weighted decibels (dBA) for eight hours. That's equivalent to a garbage disposal or blender operating about three feet away. For young children in hospitals, it has been recommended that they not be exposed to more than 50 dBA averaged over an hour. That's equivalent to a dishwasher running in the next room.”

The study’s author said the results showed, “The main message is that off-the-rack machines - three of them - at certain conditions are capable of producing hazardous levels of sounds.”


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Gerry Oginski
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