Too Much Noise May Affect Children's Mental Health

Study finds link between environmental noise and kids' attitude and actions

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WEDNESDAY, May 29, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- The next time you close the window when children are around, you might be helping the kids more than you thought.

The clatter and racket from roads, railways and other loud neighborhood noises can harm children's mental health, says a new study in the June issue of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Researchers examined the impact of environmental noise on more than 1,400 children in central Austria in two parallel studies. One study included 1,280 children exposed to a wide range of noise levels, and the other looked at 125 children exposed to low or high levels of environmental noise.

The researchers checked the children's birth records, along with their school performance and behavior. The children were asked how often they felt anxious, stressed or depressed, or had sleep problems.

Environmental noise significantly affected how all the children behaved in class, their academic performance, social behavior and how easily they were distracted. The higher the levels of environmental noise, the greater the impact on the children's mental health, the study says.

The most significant impact seemed to be on children who were premature or underweight at birth. These children are more susceptible to behavioral problems than other children, the authors says.

More informationThis site from a not-for-profit organization, The Noise Pollution Clearinghouse, explains the dangers or environmental noise.

SOURCE: June 2002 Occupational and Environmental Medicine

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