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Toys and games: poorly recognised hearing hazards?

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: (Published 16 May 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:1473

European case ascertainment will help to confirm the association

  1. Linda M Luxon, Professor of audiological medicine ( Protection aganst Noise Leisure Noise Research Group, c/o Per-Anders Hellstrom, Sahlgren's Hospital, Hearing Research Laboratory, PO Box 8417, 40275 Göteborg, Sweden
  1. Institute of Laryngology and Otology, University College London, London WC1X 8EE

    In 1995 the World Health Organisation estimated that 120 million people worldwide had a disabling hearing impairment.1 Many causes of hearing impairment are recognised, but noise exposure in childhood has been largely ignored.

    There is evidence to suggest that children's hearing is particularly vulnerable to noise. Animal experiments have shown a period of particular sensitivity shortly after birth.2 Moreover, the heads, ears, and external auditory canals of children are shaped differently from those of adults, allowing greater amplification of high frequency sounds,3 which are relatively more harmful to hearing than low frequency sounds. Over the past decade the incidence of high frequency loss in schoolchildren has not decreased in Scandinavia,4 although it has in protected industrial workers. 1 2

    Several studies have reported permanent sensorineural hearing loss in children related to noisy toys, games,5 fire crackers,6 and gunfire …

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