Noise machines may put infants at risk of developing hearing loss

USA Today reports that research published online in Pediatrics suggests that “parents should be cautious with” infant sleep machines “because they can generate sound levels that could place infants at risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss.”

These “machines – which can be used to mask environmental noises or provide ambient noise designed to soothe an infant during sleep – ‘are capable of producing levels that may be damaging to babies’ hearing,’ says Blake Papsin … senior author of the study.”

The New York Times reports that according to Dr. Gordon B. Hughes, the program director of clinical trials for the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, “Unless parents are adequately warned of the danger, or the design of the machines by manufacturers is changed to be safer, then the potential for harm exists, and parents need to know about it.” Dr. Hughes was not involved in the study.

On its website, NBC News reports that in the study, investigators “tested 14 widely available machines that play white noise and other soothing sounds.” The researchers found that “at one foot away, three of the machines produced such intense sound levels at maximum volume that, if played through the night, they would exceed allowable noise limits for adults at work.”

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