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Are Your Children's Toys Harming Their Hearing?

Many Floridians have by now heard their share of noisy toys being played with non-stop in the days following Christmas. If it seems like toys are louder than they used to be, that's because many are. The noise level of some can be dangerous to children's hearing.

According to one hearing expert, noise is the leading cause of hearing loss in children. Further, the number of children under 12 impacted to some degree by hearing loss has risen to 20 percent. The Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing says that this hearing loss can be permanent.

What increases the danger is that many loud toys are marketed for kids who are six years old and younger. In fact, they are often found in cribs. The executive director of ACDHH says that lullaby toys placed in cribs can expose little ones "to excessive noise for extended periods of time."

According to the ACDHH, children should be exposed to no higher than 85 decibels and for no more than eight hours. However, even 15 minutes or less of noise that's 100 dB or more can cause hearing damage. There are no regulations restricting the decibel level of toys.

What if you already have some of these dangerous toys in your home? The ACDHH recommends placing thick tape over the toys' speakers and limiting the time that your children spend playing with them.

How do you avoid buying a toy that's too loud, particularly when manufacturers don't list the decibel level on their packaging?

  • Purchase something that makes little if any noise. Dolls, board games and sports equipment are all good solutions.
  • Listen to the toy. If it seems too loud for you, it's likely too loud for your child. Remember that children often hold toys very closely.
  • Invest in some headphones that limit decibel level.
  • Use an app that measures decibel level.
  • Do some research. A number of websites list the noisiest toys on the market and provide other helpful advice for preventing hearing loss.

It may be difficult to prove that a particular toy has caused hearing loss in a child. They're exposed to a multitude of loud toys, not to mention iPods, televisions and computers. However, it may be worth determining what your legal options are if you believe your child's hearing loss was caused by a particular toy.

Source: Yuma Sun, "Organization warns of noisy toys’ effects on hearing," Rachel Twoguns, accessed Dec. 28, 2015

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