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Dangerous Toy Coverage Missing An Important Health Threat: Risk Of Hearing Loss

As consumers snap up electronic toys as gifts for all ages, another, very real danger is being overlooked, according to the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA).

To date, this health threat has been largely overlooked as news reports have focused on the lead content of toys, and other serious concerns.

In its November 20, 2007 news release "CPSC Delivers the ABC's of Toy Safety", hearing damage from noisy toys or electronic devices is completely absent from the list of dangers to children, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Yet electronics are among the fastest-growing segment of the toy market, and are being marketed to younger and younger children.

"It is up to adults to safeguard our children and protect them from dangers that we can easily avoid, including lead, choke hazards and hearing damage from loud toys or playing videogames and music too loud, too long," said Noma Anderson, Ph.D. president of ASHA.

Loud toys and personal listening technologies that aren't used safely pose a threat to ears of all ages. Once damaged, ears do not heal. For children, hearing loss can also lead to other problems, including difficulties in academic and social development.

As younger and younger children are asking for and receiving electronic toys and music devices like MP3s and iPods, it is critical that parents learn how to protect their children's hearing and teach them safe listening habits.

Here are some simple guidelines:

How to Maintain Healthy Hearing

  • If you must raise your voice to be heard, it is loud enough to damage hearing.
  • When evaluating toys for small children, bear in mind that their arms are short and they tend to hold toys close to their face, making noises even louder.
  • If you can hear music from someone else's earphones three feet away, it's too loud.
  • Give your ears a break from continuous listening.
  • Upgrade headphones so that they isolate music from background noise. Lower volumes can then be used.
  • Set volume limiters before allowing children to use electronic items.

How to Recognize Hearing Loss in Children

  • Frequently misunderstands what is said and want things repeated
  • Difficulty following verbal instructions
  • Turns up the volume of the television, radio, or stereo
  • Difficulty listening or paying attention when there is noise in the background
  • Trouble identifying and/or localizing sounds
  • Reading, spelling, and other academic problems
  • Feelings of isolation, exclusion, annoyance, embarrassment, confusion, and helplessness
  • Behavior problems
  • Pulling or scratching at ears
  • A history of three or more ear infections
  • If you suspect hearing loss, seek the care and advice of a certified audiologist.

www.asha.org offers referrals and additional materials on hearing loss, including animated video of how sound damages the ear's hair cells at asha.org/

ASHA is the first and only healthcare advocacy organization focusing on teaching young children safe listening habits.

About ASHA

ASHA, located in Rockville, Maryland, is the professional, scientific, and credentialing association for more than 127,000 audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists in the United States and internationally.

About the Listen To Your Buds Campaign

ASHA's Listen to Your Buds campaign is supported by the Consumer Electronics Association, Arlington, Virginia; Califone International, Inc., San Fernando, California; Pause Parent Play, Washington, D.C.; Unwired Technologies of New York, and the rock group, O.A.R.

Taken from: www.medicalnewstoday.com

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