The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a new policy statement last weekend addressing excessive noise risks for infants, children, and adolescents. Pediatric patients face unique challenges with excessive noise exposure in an increasingly noisy world. Read the details of this report here so you can best protect your children from noise exposure.
Young children are uniquely vulnerable to noise as they must rely on adults to remove them from noisy situations. They also may not recognize the dangers of loud noise or understand the consequences of noise exposure. Children are increasingly exposed to loud noise from personal listening devices, whether via earbuds or loud tablets. Further, noise that may be within safe ranges for adults may be hazardous for children; due to their narrow ear canals, sound intensity is greatly intensified for children. This is particularly worrisome due to the susceptibility of developing auditory systems and importance of hearing during developmental stages for things like communication, social development, and brain development.
The statement also noted some common– and sometimes surprising– sources of excessive noise exposure for children. Here are a few that you can try modifying to keep your child safe:
- Infant sleep machine/noise machines: Surprisingly, devices used to create “white noise” or other noise to aid infant sleep were cited as a potential source for hazardous noise. If they must be used, the AAP recommends positioning them far away from the bed and using the lowest volume setting.
- Background noise exposure: This includes noise from the TV, radio, or other sources when a child is occupied with another activity.
- Toys: Toys that make noise may exceed safe noise levels. Adjust the volume when possible, or try placing tape over the speakers to dampen the noise.
- Personal listening devices: Unsurprisingly, PLDs are a source of excessive noise for children. Set volume controls and try noise-canceling headphones so the volume doesn’t need to be turned up in noisier environments.
- Noisy classrooms: School settings are a major source of noise exposure. While you may not be able to control all classroom exposures, you should talk with your child’s teacher if you have concerns. Turning down the volume of music or monitors in the classroom, adding rugs and noise-absorbing foam, and having designated quiet times can help. Read more about hearing safety in classrooms here.