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Parents, Turn Down Those White-Noise Machines — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
March 4, 2014

Parents, Turn Down Those White-Noise Machines

By Amy Orciari Herman

Infant sleep machines — designed to emit white noise or other ambient sounds to promote better sleep — can produce sound levels that might damage a baby's hearing, a Pediatrics study finds.

Researchers played 14 commercial infant sleep machines at maximum volume, and measured the output at various distances to simulate the likely distance between the machine and infant. They found that all machines, if attached to a crib or placed on a bedside table, would exceed the maximum sound level recommended for hospital nurseries; three would exceed occupational limits for adults.

The researchers conclude that sleep machines "may place infants at risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss or maldevelopment of the auditory system." For safer use, they recommend that the machines be kept as far from the baby as possible, be set at the lowest volume possible, and be shut off after the baby falls asleep.

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