What to Know About Headphones and the Risk of Hearing Loss in Kids


Parents and doctors are increasingly calling for more attention to the risks of wearing headphones and earphones while in the house, as a rising number of young people suffer from hearing loss.

Read More in an effort to stem the spread of the potentially lethal condition, the FDA has set aside the earphones category for those that have a good soundproofing and protective design.

But parents and others have been urging the FDA to broaden the category to include any earphones that are not designed to block out ambient noise.

“The hearing protection that these products provide can be very effective,” Dr. David Buss, chief medical officer at the American Academy of Audiology, told The Wall St. Journal.

“But if the earphone or earbuds are designed to filter sound, that can cause hearing loss, and there are many of them that do.”

In the past, the agency has banned earphones and earbud earphones for children younger than 2, though they can still be worn in some settings.

A federal court in September ordered the FDA not to change the rules, but it could revisit the ban in the coming weeks.

While the FDA says the rule is needed to ensure that children don’t develop hearing loss while in a noisy environment, some parents and medical professionals say that’s not enough.

The FDA has also proposed that the FDA consider limiting the use of earphones to certain rooms, including bathrooms, kitchens and classrooms, if they are intended to be used to listen to music or talk to others. 

While it’s not clear what will happen to the rule after the court decision, the concern is that the ban on earphones in children younger, or otherwise more vulnerable, may be expanded.

The hearing loss problem is particularly severe among children under age 5, who tend to have poorer hearing, according to the American Association of Pediatrics.

“I am not aware of any earbodys that I have ever used to communicate with a child,” said Dr. Jody Purdy, a hearing health specialist in New Jersey.

“They are very important to have around the house. 

The best way to protect your child is to have a great soundproof ear.”

A study published in the journal Pediatrics in April showed that people who wear hearing protection while at work or school are more likely to suffer hearing loss in the future.

“It is not clear if the FDA’s recent decision is the right one to take, given the increasing number of cases,” said Lili Yee, a pediatrician in Philadelphia and co-founder of the Hearing Protection Institute.

“However, there is no reason why a person should be exposed to such risk at work and at school when earphones are an important part of their daily lives.”

A hearing-protection device, often called a headband, is usually worn by the wearer to reduce the amount of noise they are exposed to.

While most are not considered earphones, they are usually attached to a head-band.

The earbunts come in a variety of shapes and colors, and are attached to the ears with velcro or metal clips.

The new rules would allow the FDA more flexibility in deciding when and how to limit the use and use of headbands.

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