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Noisy Toys May Contribute to Hearing Loss

Noisy Toys May Contribute to Hearing Loss



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Nadine Wimmer reportingSome of the toys your children are enjoying from Christmas could cause them health problems. Doctors are seeing a rapid increase in the number of children with hearing loss.

There are a lot of factors in hearing loss, but here's one of them. Noisy toys that sound off by a touch or a trip on in the middle of the night.

We measured the decibels of toys in a family toy box, and you might be surprised.

Toys like these make parents fear they'll lose their minds.

Kent Wilcox/ Father: "I don't think we've ever thought about noise levels, haven't seemed to be much more than just annoying."

But toys like these make doctors fear kids will lose their hearing.

Dr. Don Worthington/ IHC Hearing and Balance Center: "Anyone exposed to those for even a short amount of time could potentially have damage to the ears."

He started researching the issue when he noticed a growing number of children with sound-induced hearing loss. Almost 15-percent of children now show signs of a problem, according the Journal of the American Medical Association.

So we took a decibel meter to the Wilcox toybox to see how loud these toys really are.

Her piano pegged the meter at 90+ decibels. The Sesame Street gang, also pegged at 90+. A Leapfrog pad registered at 86, but other tests have some to exceed 100 decibels.

That means these toys register somewhere along the noise level of a vaccum cleaner, a rock concert and a power drill.

Kent Wilcox: "I don't remember nearly the noise when I was a child." "But these days, it's so easy to make them noisy and get their attention. I definitely think there's more out there."

More bells and whistles, but the industry has recently started imposing noise standards.

Toys aren't the only problem. In Utah, many young people hunt, ride on loud machines, and they wouldn't be teens if they didn't listen to music.

Dr. Don Worthington/ IHC Hearing and Balance Center: "The problem is how to enforce it. You keep saying 'turn it down, turn it down.' As soon as you get out the door, they jack it way up."

Dr. Worthington: "It could hurt them in school, later on it could hurt them in certain professions that deal with communication."

Dr. Worthington says kids should always wear ear protection when they're shooting guns, mowing the lawn or blowing leaves, or using loud power tools, and possibly even when playing in the band. There are special devices for musicians.

As for toys, be aware that repeated, long exposure to loud toys can cause damage.

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