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It's a Noisy Planet. Protect Their Hearing.

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Media Backgrounder:

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss and Tweens

We are surrounded by noises, many of which have the potential to cause hearing loss. This also is true of kids, who take part in a variety of activities that put their hearing at risk. Any loss of hearing by children can have lifelong implications for learning, social relationships, and job opportunities.

In response, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) has launched It's a Noisy Planet. Protect Their Hearing. The Noisy Planet campaign is NIDCD's new public education effort aimed at preventing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) among children ages 8 to 12, or "tweens." This age range presents a window of opportunity to teach children about the causes and prevention of NIHL while they are developing their own attitudes and habits related to their health, including their hearing health.

Why Worry About Noise and Tweens?

  • NIHL occurs when tiny sensory hair cells in the inner ear are damaged by noises that are too loud and persist for too long. This damage may be permanent.
  • Children frequently participate in activities involving potentially damaging noise levels: playing with noisy toys, band instruments, and video games; listening to personal music players and stereos at high volumes; attending concerts and movies; operating lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and power tools; and riding off-road vehicles and snowmobiles.
  • Results of a 2005 Web-based survey published in the journal Pediatrics showed that only 16 percent of teen and young adult respondents reported that they had heard, read, or seen anything related to the issue of hearing loss, and only 9 percent received this information through their school.
  • Reducing NIHL in children and teens ages 17 and under is an objective of Healthy People 2010, the national disease prevention and health promotion plan of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Other hearing-related objectives include increasing the use of appropriate ear protection devices, equipment, and practices and reducing NIHL in adults.

The Noisy Planet Campaign

  • Although some public education efforts already exist to prevent NIHL, most are aimed at children older or younger than ages 8 to 12 and most emphasize music-listening behavior. The Noisy Planet campaign fills this audience gap and emphasizes the many sources of potential noise damage and the ways in which children can protect their hearing.
  • The Noisy Planet campaign is designed to increase awareness among parents of children ages 8 to 12 (tweens) about the causes and prevention of NIHL so that they can encourage their children to adopt healthy hearing habits. Although tweens are at a developmental stage during which they become more independent, they still look to their parents as role models and for guidance.
  • The Noisy Planet campaign serves a secondary purpose by educating parents and other adults about how to protect their own hearing. Thirty million Americans are exposed to dangerous levels of noise on a regular basis. More than 26┬ámillion American adults between the ages of 20 and 69 already have high-frequency hearing loss stemming from work or leisure time activities.

Noisy Planet Campaign Fact Sheets and Other Resources

The Noisy Planet Web site, with information for parents, children, the media, and others interested in NIHL prevention, is at noisyplanet.nidcd.nih.gov. New information is being added to the Noisy Planet Web site regularly. Currently available information online and in print includes:

NIDCD Hearing Statistics Online

A freshly revamped section of the NIDCD Web site offers updated statistics on hearing and ear disorders, with newly added charts and tables on hearing and ear problems affecting people of all ages. References for scientific journal articles related to hearing epidemiology also have been added. The updated NIDCD statistics page is at www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/hearing.asp. Be sure to bookmark it!

NIDCD Media Contact

Office of Health Communication and Public Liaison
31 Center Drive, MSC 2320
Bethesda, MD 20892-2320
Phone 301-496-7243
Susan Dambrauskas: dambrauskass@mail.nih.gov