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August 30th, 2013 | General | by Tracy Saunders

How Does Loud Noise Affect Infants?

Concerned Parent:

We recently took our 7 month old son to a wedding reception where the music was quite loud (95-100 db) according to the sound meter app on my iPhone. My wife took him outside of the banquet room for part of the duration and he maybe sustained 10 minutes at this sound intensity. For the whole duration of the wedding, including the introduction of the bridal party and associated music, he maybe sustained 30 minutes at this slightly lower intensity.

My questions are:

Is this going to contribute to his cumulative hearing damage?
If I schedule an audiology test and he “passes” will that mean that no damage has occured or will occur?
Are babies at a higher risk for hearing damage because of their anatomy?
Thank you from a paranoid first time parent.

Audiologist:

Interesting question and particularly interesting for me as I have a 6 week old baby who we also took to a wedding this past weekend.

The reality is that noise exposure does contribute to hearing loss and any sounds greater than 85dB may contribute to hearing loss. Infants are at a heightened risk because their ear canals are much smaller than ours. Decibel is actually a relative measure, and the standard of 85 is for an adult ear.

Therefore, a sound of say, 80dB may not be too loud for us, but would be much louder in an infant’s ear because of the smaller ear canal volume.

Noise exposure is a reality of life. Plenty of situations will arise throughout you and your children’s lives that could heighten your risk for hearing loss. Whether or not this will lead to a measurable hearing loss depends on a multitude of factors, including the sound’s level, duration of exposure, frequency of exposure, genetics, etc.

I would not recommend a hearing test, nor do I believe that any measurable hearing loss would have resulted from this one event. If you continue to be conscious of noise exposure you will be miles ahead of most parents!

Best regards,

Tracy Saunders, M.Cl.Sc., Reg. CASLPO

Tracy Saunders is a registered Audiologist with the College of Audiologists and Speech Language Pathologists of Ontario. She holds a Master’s Degree in Audiology from the University of Western Ontario and an Honours Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Toronto.

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