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Exposure to high sound levels and risk of hearing related disorder among obstetrics personnel

Conference contribution
Authors Sofie Fredriksson
Kerstin Persson Waye
Published in Proceedings of 11th International Congress on Noise as a Public Health Problem (ICBEN), 1-5 June 2014, Nara, Japan
Publication year 2014
Published at Institute of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Section of Occupational and environmental medicine
Language en
Subject categories Environmental medicine


Exposure to high sound levels is a well-known cause of hearing disorder. However, this has not been adequately studied in non-industrial work environments. Therefore, a cross-sectional study was performed in an obstetrics ward including sound level measurements and a questionnaire survey among personnel (response rate 72%, n=115). Among 55 of those a nested case-control study was performed, with measurements of pure-tone audiometry, distortion product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAE) and hearing in noise test (HINT). The sound level measurements showed that 46% of the measured shifts exceeded 80 dB LAeq and 27% of the shifts exceeded 115 dB LAFmax. More than half of the participants reported one or more hearing-related symptom and almost half of the group reported work-related stress and noise annoyance. Calculated cumulative occupational noise dose was significantly associated with increased odds of tinnitus and sound fatigue in logistic regression models. A small proportion of the participants had worse hearing compared to age-specific reference for audiometry at 6-8 kHz. Impaired hearing as measured by audiometry and DPOAE was furthermore significantly correlated to cumulative occupational noise dose. The study shows that obstetrics personnel are exposed to high sound levels and have an increased risk of hearing disorder. This indicates a need for preventive action related to noise exposure in the obstetrics care.

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