Effects Of Exposure To Loud Noises During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a phase in a woman’s life when she has to be extra careful and cautious with her actions, food habits, and her lifestyle too. What a pregnant woman does or eats significantly impacts the growing baby. One such factor is loud noises. Loud noises can impact the growing baby. Your baby develops his/her hearing aid in the beginning of your second trimester of pregnancy.

When Does Your Baby Develop Hearing Aid?

When you’re in your 4th month of pregnancy, i.e. when your baby is 16 weeks old, s/he can hear sounds from inside the womb. Your baby’s ears fully develop as your pregnancy progresses. Exposure to loud noises or sounds, while your baby’s ears are not yet fully developed, can have harmful repercussions. Your baby’s ears are fully formed when s/he is 27 to 30 weeks old. When your little one hears any loud noise or sound, s/he has a reflex action of kicking or moving inside the womb.

Side Effects Of Loud Noises During Pregnancy

Exposure to loud noises during pregnancy can cause maternal hypertension in the carrying mother and congenital abnormalities

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in the growing fetus/baby. Research on animals proves that being exposed to high levels of noise during pregnancy affects fetal development. The results in humans too are similar. Babies who were exposed to loud noises while they were in the womb showed limited motor maturity and activity. These babies also showed high levels of cortisol during weaning and the learning process was slow too.

Studies claim that pregnant women living near the airport and who listen to high decibels of noise every day have an increased risk of preterm births and giving birth to babies with low birth weight.

Not All Sounds Are Harmful

While it is true that loud noises can disrupt or slow down the developmental process in babies, many studies say that not all noises are harmful to the growing baby.

Noises which are 60 to 80 decibels loud invoke a stress response in humans. Any noise levels higher than 80 decibels can even lead to a permanent hearing loss. But how loud noises can potentially be a reproductive hazard is still under study with no conclusive results as of now.

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Studies are still being conducted to find proof that exposure to loud noises during pregnancy causes teratogenicity, stillbirth, and abortion. A stress-induced maternal catecholamine surge mechanism can be used to study the effects of loud noises on the fetus.

The amniotic fluid protects the baby from any noises outside the carrying mother’s body. This can be compared to the feeling of being underwater and how the noise from outside is cushioned. The baby in the pool of amniotic fluid reacts to the sound and vibrations but the sound is not carried with the same frequency through the water as it does through air.

Dangerous Sounds To Avoid During Pregnancy:

Though your baby has amniotic fluid protecting him/her from the loud sounds, it is best not to expose the growing fetus to loud noises or sounds. In some cases, constant exposure to noises can even lead to loss of hearing in the baby. Similarly, volumes which are above 140 decibels such as jet engine or a rock concert amplifier can be fatal to the fetus. In order to avoid such repercussions you must:

  • Avoid exposure
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    to the sounds of jet engines on a regular basis
  • Don’t stand near a firing range
  • Try and refrain from attending rock concerts
  • Make sure your workplace too is calm and does not have noise levels above 80 decibels

If you work in an industry or manufacturing factor etc, take a break during your pregnancy. Limit your exposure to loud sounds and noises. Loud noises can also invoke stress-responses in the carrying mother which can thereby lead to complications in your pregnancy.