Staying Safe: Protecting your child's hearing

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For parents of school-age children, there's a good chance something going under the Christmas tree will go in their ears. iPods and mp3s have become very popular, and doctors see a concerning trend. They have a message they hope we'll all hear.

Staying Safe: Protecting your child's hearing

Today we visited Dr. Candi Brown, a school audiologist who was teaching a class about hearing. In a demonstration using pipe cleaners, she showed the students the effects different sounds can have on the thousands of hair cells in our ears.

First, Brown showed the effects of sound generated from mowing the lawn by bouncing the pipe cleaners around. Then she showed them what sound generated at a rock concert does and crumpled the pipe cleaners, leaving them completely mangled. "Once these are dead, you can't get them back," Brown said.

Brown sounds that message with urgency because more kids as young as elementary-school age are now failing their hearing tests. "Over the last few years, I've noticed a huge increase in kids when they came back from their hearing screening," she said.

She estimates one in 10 kids now suffer from noise-induced hearing loss, which means instead of needing a hearing aid in their 50s, many in this generation may need them in their 30s.

Staying Safe: Protecting your child's hearing

"The problem that I see is it's 100 percent preventable, and all we need to do is educate. We need to educate the kids and we need to educate the parents," Brown said.

Brown says her message isn't just "turn it down," she wants kids to learn that if they like it loud, don't listen as long.

"I should probably listen to it softer," Alyssa told us.

Josh said, "It's not too loud. Sometimes I've even only had one earphone in so I can hear mom when she talks to me."

Brown says you'll know the music is too loud when you can sing the song your child is listening to on his or her iPod, or if you're within arm's length of someone and you have to yell for them to hear them over the music.


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Nadine Wimmer


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