Medical Minute: Noise From Electronic Devices May Cause Hearing Problems In Children

The American Academy of Pediatrics is sounding the alarm on excessive noise that kids and teens are exposed to, warning that it might have permanent consequences. CBS's Nick Caloway speaks with the lead author about the worst culprits in today's Medical Minute

Friday, December 1st 2023, 12:05 pm

By: CBS News

Researchers are sounding the alarm on excessive noise that kids and teens are exposed to, and how it might have permanent consequences.

The number one culprits are those phones and tablets.

The world is a loud place. We are constantly exposed to excessive noise levels. Some of it is unavoidable. Others, not so much.

Most parents have given in, at some point, to those devices, like phones or tablets.

"When you needed to do something, do dishes, take a call, you gave the kid a phone, just to occupy them for a few minutes. And now it's hard to get these things away from them," Montclair resident Christina Cattell said.

"My daughter has earbuds in her ears at all times, unless she has lost them," Candi Carter added.

Experts say those earbuds are usually too loud. A new study from the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that many kids are exposed to potentially harmful noise from infancy -- and the effects can last a lifetime.

"Once hearing is lost due to noise, that is generally permanent," said Dr. Sophie Balk, a pediatrician at Children's Hospital at Montefiore.

Balk is the lead author of the new study on noise.

"It could be like immediately after a loud blast, like an explosion, but more likely it's due to repeated exposures over time to less loud noises, but noises that are still too loud," Balk said.

Like, those headphones.

The study also noted concerns about infants' exposure to sleep machines or sound machines.

Some studies do show potential benefits in using white noise to help kids sleep, but it, too, might be too loud.

"If you are going to use a sleep machine, we want you to set it at the lowest volume possible, for the shortest time possible, and set it as far away from the baby as possible," Balk said.

In addition to turning down the volume, experts say it's a good idea for kids and teens to take listening breaks, and to use earbuds with caution.


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