Maternal occupational exposure to noise during pregnancy and hearing dysfunction in children: A nationwide prospective cohort study in 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 whether 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, body mass index, leave of absence, and socioeconomic 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 (ICD-10 codes 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.


Enheter & grupper
Externa organisationer
  • Karolinska Institute
  • Karolinska University Hospital
  • Stockholm County Council

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Miljömedicin och yrkesmedicin


Sidor (från-till)855-860
Antal sidor6
TidskriftEnvironmental Health Perspectives
StatusPublished - 2016 jun 1
Peer review utfördJa