Noise and how it affects even the unborn. Part 2
Filed Under: Health & Science | Posted: 11/30/2007 at 8:57AM
Comments | Region: United States
See my article: Noise and it’s affects on the human body: Part 1 for primary information.
Looking further into noise pollution we find problems with the fetus as early as 14 days after conception from any excessive noise including loud bass background and stop rhythm (da-da-DA) music.
The most critical time for birth defects is from the 14th until 60th day according to research. A Japanese study, involving 1,000 babies, showed that during pregnancy, loud and incessant noise of any kind could cause damage to the unborn child’s developing central nervous system and vital organs. The same Japanese study demonstrated that the majority of the mothers who were in noisy environments during pregnancy gave birth to underweight babies.
Loud noise during pregnancy causes constriction of the uterine blood vessels that supply nutrients and oxygen to the fetus. The most common birth defects connected to loud noise are harelips, cleft palates and spinal defects. Long-term studies suggest that noise pollution, while the fetus is developing and during the child’s early development years, contributes to learning disabilities, speech difficulties and reading impairment. Noisy environments contribute to anti-social behavior, poor communication skills, lowered study and work efficiency and the ability to perform complex tasks.
Some years ago a friend showed me an article that compared athletic performances, one with loud music and the other with flowing, easy going music. Those who trained and competed while listening to the flowing music outperformed the other group in every event, especially in distance events like marathons, cycling and triathlons.
Possible reasons for the difference in performance could be that loud noise and stop beat music contribute to excessive fatigue, muscle tension and later muscle weakness. As stated in “Noise Part 1,” loud noise and loud music causes constriction of the outer heart blood vessels and shallow breath rates. None of those effects are desirable in athletics or everyday life.
Another consideration concerning noise pollution is the financial aspect. If we go to Anytown, USA and look at what used to be upbeat, vibrant and healthful neighborhoods but are now rundown, have high crime rates, drug problems and high unemployment, we find, in most cases, that some form of pollution problem was involved. Freeways, noisy trams, loud industry, traffic, other street noise and loud noises of any kind drive away those who can afford to move to quieter, less polluted areas. This is true not only of residential situations but also businesses. Few people will choose a loud shopping mall or noisy residential area over one that offers an atmosphere of relaxation.
Have you ever tried to carry on a conversation next to a noisy street? Cities and states spend huge amounts of monies to erect concrete walls and other barriers to stop the noise from encroaching upon the areas that border freeways and busy streets. The noise still creeps over, around and through. The constant noise is not only an annoyance it also contributes to higher rates of diseases of adaptation, lowers property values and indirectly increases our taxes.
In one research project, people who lived in urban areas of high noise had all the necessary wires and gadgets hooked to them so the researchers could monitor their heart rate, blood pressure and other signs of stress. Then they were connected to virtual reality machines. Loud music, sirens, scenes of freeways and busy urban areas caused their stress levels to soar. Grass savannas, trees, flowing water and soft music lowered stress indicators to their normal levels or below. They all were urban dwellers and their baseline “normal” levels were higher than people who lived in quieter rural areas.
A few years ago we went to Oregon to visit our kids. We went on a picnic where I hadn’t been since the completion of the I-5 freeway. From our vantage point high above the Willamette Valley, cars and trucks looked like tiny ants scurrying up and down a thin black strip stretching over the horizons. It was a beautiful day, spent with family and friends in a place that held many fond memories: kids growing up, cutting firewood for the winter to come, and innertubing in the snow.
But, I’ll never go back there again. I prefer to remember it the way it used to be, before the constant rumbling intrusion from the freeway many miles away.