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Officials Find Loud Toys Can Be Dangerous To Children's Hearing

County officials warned parents today about the dangers of loud toys that can damage hearing in children.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county public health officer, said the ear canals in toddlers are smaller, making noises seem louder. She also said their shorter arms mean toys will be held closer to their ears.

"If a toy seems loud to you in the store, don't buy it," Wooten said.

According to the Sight and Hearing Association of St. Paul, Minn., some of the loudest toys are:

  • Bell Riderz Block Blaster, for ages 4-8, recorded at 129 decibels when held up close;
  • Cars Shake 'N Go Ramone, for ages 3-7, at 119 decibels;
  • Transformers Optimus Prime Cyber Sword, for ages 4+, at 110 decibels, and
  • True Heroes Sonic Battle Blasters, for ages 3+, at 110 decibels.

Prolonged exposure to noise of 85 decibels or higher can cause hearing loss, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders.
Parents can put tape over the speakers of loud toys, remove the batteries, lower the volume and limit the time their children are exposed to them, Wooten said.

She and Supervisor Ron Roberts also said iPods can damage the hearing of teenagers if played too loudly.

The federal EPA estimates 5 million children in the United States suffer from hearing loss caused by exposure to loud noise.

According to Wooten, warning signs of hearing loss in children include not reacting to noise, speaking unusually loudly and continually asking people to repeat what they just said.

Roberts also warned parents to be on the lookout for small objects on toys, which can cause choking.