The year is 2002 and I’m standing in front of the stage at GM Place. I’m about 20 feet away from Ozzy Osbourne belting out his infamous song Crazy Train. At this point in my life I had been to many rock/metal concerts, but what made this concert significantly memorable was that it was the loudest concert I had ever been to. As I screamed along with Ozzy and threw up the horns (international rock/metal salute), it felt like the bass was rattling my ribs loose.
I’ve since retired myself from mosh pits, but still enjoy the occasional concert, and now that I am pregnant again, I started to wonder if it would still be safe to attend. Would it be too loud for the baby? Could it cause damage to his hearing? I decided to do a little research.
It wasn’t easy finding any definitive research on the effects of loud music during pregnancy (anything current at least). PubMed had published an article, but back in 1993. A search of our government health sites, online journals and past news articles also turned up few results. The majority of content I found was from concerned moms-to-be posting various opinions and doctor recommendations in online forums. After much combing, I did find a few helpful facts.
While there is no scientific proof that the occasional loud concert will harm your unborn baby, long-term exposure might. For example, an eight-hour exposure to 90 decibels (a diesel truck going 40 mph at 50’) can raise the odds of hearing loss in unborn babies, especially if the frequency is higher than that. Rock concerts are rated at around 110 decibels (probably higher if you’re in the same arena as Ozzy.)
The important thing to keep in mind is that at the 24-week stage of his/her life, the cochlea (auditory portion of the inner ear) has formed and is in full practise transmitting sounds to the brain. These sounds are muffled by the muscle lining in the abdominal cavity, and while you might think that the amniotic fluid would also muffle sounds, it has been said that it might actually amplify sound.
Conclusion? As always, it’s probably best to check with your doctor. For myself, I think I can avoid concerts for the next few months just to be on the safe side. Besides, there is more than loud music at concerts that can cause potential harm such as secondhand smoke, large crowds and if your friend can’t handle your weight on their shoulders, too much time on your feet 😉