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Children's Health Advance Publication

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Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/ehp.1509874

Maternal Occupational Exposure to Noise during Pregnancy and Hearing Dysfunction in Children: A Nationwide Prospective Cohort Study in Sweden

Jenny Selander1, Maria Albin1,2,3, Ulf Rosenhall4, Lars Rylander3, Marie Lewné1,2, and Per Gustavsson1,2
Author Affiliations open
1Institute of Environmental Medicine, Unit of Occupational Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden; 2Centre for Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Stockholm County Council, Stockholm, Sweden; 3Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Lund University, Lund, Sweden; 4Department of Audiology and Neurotology, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden

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  • Background: Many women of childbearing age are occupationally active which leads to a large number of pregnancies potentially exposed to occupational exposures. Occupational noise has been identified as a risk factor for hearing impairment in adults. However, very few studies have assessed the effect of occupational noise on the fetus.

    Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate if occupational exposure to noise during pregnancy is associated with hearing dysfunction in children.

    Methods: This population based cohort study included 1 422 333 single births in Sweden 1986 – 2008. Data on mothers’ occupation, smoking habits, age, ethnicity, BMI, leave of absence and socio-economic factors were obtained from interviews performed by prenatal care unit staff at approximately 10 weeks of gestation, and from national registers. Occupational noise exposure was classified by a job-exposure-matrix as <75, 75-84, or ≥85 dBLAeq,8h. Diagnosed cases of hearing dysfunction (ICD10 H90.3-7, 91.0, 91.2-3, 91.8, 93.1-2) were identified from a register of specialized medical care. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate associations.

    Results: In the full sample, containing a mixture of part-time and full time workers during pregnancy, the adjusted HR for hearing dysfunction associated with maternal occupational noise exposure ≥85 vs <75 dBLAeq,8h was 1.27 (95% CI: 0.99, 1.64; 60 exposed cases). When restricted to children whose mothers worked full-time, and had <20 days leave of absence during pregnancy, the corresponding HR was 1.82 (95% CI 1.08, 3.08; 14 exposed cases).

    Conclusions: This study showed an association between occupational noise exposure during pregnancy and hearing dysfunction in children. In view of mechanistic evidence and earlier indicative epidemiological and experimental findings, the results support that pregnant women should not be exposed to high levels of noise at work.

  • This EHP Advance Publication article has been peer-reviewed, revised, and accepted for publication. EHP Advance Publication articles are completely citable using the DOI number assigned to the article. This document will be replaced with the copyedited and formatted version as soon as it is available. Through the DOI number used in the citation, you will be able to access this document at each stage of the publication process.

    Citation: Selander J, Albin M, Rosenhall U, Rylander L, Lewné M, Gustavsson P. Maternal Occupational Exposure to Noise during Pregnancy and Hearing Dysfunction in Children: A Nationwide Prospective Cohort Study in Sweden. Environ Health Perspect; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1509874

    Received: 24 February 2015
    Accepted: 23 November 2015
    Advance Publication: 8 December 2015

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