Health Update: Are Your Kids' Toys Causing Hearing Damage?

A new survey of popular toys -- including Tickle Me Elmo -- found that many may be loud enough to cause permanent damage if misused. Make sure you check the rest of this list -- and learn what to do about it.

When Toys Can Damage Ears

Question: What's louder -- your kid's Tickle Me Elmo or a subway train?

Answer: Depends how close your child holds her Elmo toy to her ears while playing. University of California, Irvine researchers recently found that a number of popular children's toys were louder than100 decibels when held next to the ear -- that's equivalent to the sound of a lawn mower, power saw, or subway.

"Although these toys are perfectly safe when used correctly, many children don't play with them correctly," says researcher Hamid Djalilian, MD, director of the Hearing and Balance Center at UC Irvine. "And prolonged exposure to any noise over 90 decibels can cause permanent hearing loss later in life."

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