New Study Reports that Infant “Sleep Machines” May Actually Harm Hearing
The New York Times reported on a recent study that supports that “sleep machines” used for infants can be loud enough at maximum volume to damage a baby’s hearing. The devices use a constant sound, such as “white noise” or calming nature sounds, to help infants fall asleep and stay asleep. These machines, often embedded in cuddly stuffed animals, are common gifts for infants.
The study conducted by researchers at the University of Toronto, published online in Pediatrics, tested 14 sleep machines widely available in the US and Canada. The researchers found that all 14 machines were able to surpass the 50 decibel noise limit recommended for hospital nurseries and 3 were able to surpass the 85 decibel level recommended for workplace noise if placed on the rail of the crib.
Dr. Blake Paspin, senior author of the paper and chief otolaryngologist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, told The New York Times: “These machines are capable of delivering noise that we think is unsafe for full-grown adults in mines.” He added, “Farther away is less dangerous, a lower volume is better and shorter durations of time, all things that deliver less sound pressure to the baby.” Dr. Gordon B. Hughes, program director of clinical trials for the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, also said, “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.”
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