Just as a pregnant mom avoids eating any toxic food for fear of hurting her unborn baby or herself, she shouldn’t expose her baby to toxic noise to avoid hearing problems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explain that sirens, loud factory jobs, and blasting music can travel through a pregnant woman’s body and damage her unborn baby’s hearing.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) add, “Studies have demonstrated that exposure to intense and sustained sounds is harmful, and may be related to hearing deficits, chromosomal abnormalities, elevated cortisol levels, and abnormal social behavior following birth.”
Child development experts say that as early as nine weeks, an embryo forms indentations for the ears to grow. By 18 weeks of age, the fetus begins to hear sounds, and starts responding to noises and voices by 26 weeks of development.
Although the mother’s abdomen muffles sounds inside the womb, and the baby’s ears are filled with amniotic fluid, loud noise can still penetrate.
“Increased noise levels can cause stress. This can cause changes in a pregnant woman’s body that can affect her developing baby,” the CDC states. “Hearing protectors such as ear plugs can protect the mother’s hearing, but the only way to protect the baby’s hearing is to stay away from loud noise as much as possible, or ask to work a quieter job during pregnancy
“We don’t always know what causes hearing problems in babies. We don’t know for sure what levels of noise are safe for pregnancy. For adults, noise that is 85 decibels and above can be hazardous. At this level, you would have to raise your voice to be heard by someone next to you,” the CDC explains.