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White noise from ‘sleep machines’ can harm babies’ ears, study finds

March 5, 2014

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Toronto – White noise machines used to help babies sleep may reach sound levels that are harmful to young ears, according to a new study from the University of Toronto.

Researchers measured 14 “sleep machines” at maximum volume and recorded the sound pressure level at various distances as if it were being heard by a 6-month-old baby.

When placed at the closest distance of 30 centimeters, the devices were found to produce sound at levels higher than 50 dB, which is the recommended limit for infants. Further, three of the machines produced sound higher than 85 dB, the occupational limit for general industry.

The study was published online March 3 in the journal Pediatrics.