tungphotoInfant sleep machines that produce white noise to drown out disturbances to a baby’s sleep can be damaging to their hearing if set at maximum volume. Researchers at the University of Toronto evaluated 14 brands of sleep machines at maximum volume and found that when placed 30 centimeters from an infant, 3 brands exceeded 85 decibels, the safety limit for adults on an eight-hour work shift determined by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. A newborn’s brain is learning to distinguish pitches and sounds while during sleep, therefore, if the newborn is accustomed to white noise, they may not be as responsive to soft speech and other noises. Dr. Blake Papsin, the author and the chief otolaryngologist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, suggests putting the sleep machine farther away, using it at a lower volume, and for a shorter duration of time will deliver less sound pressure to the baby and reduce the risk for hearing impairment. What recommendations do you offer your patients to help their babies sleep well?

For additional information, please see New York Times.

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