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Keywords:

  • Noise;
  • Growth;
  • Height;
  • Weight;
  • Airport;
  • Pollution

Abstract

A study of children living adjacent to an international airport was conducted to learn whether noise exposure affected physical growth. Prenatal and postnatal noise exposures were estimated for each subject based on noise levels at their residences during jetplane takeoffs. Subjects' birthweights were standardized for sex and parity, and their postnatal heights and weights were standardized for sex and age (range 6–11 years). The difference between standardized birthweight score and postnatal height score, and between birthweight score and postnatal weight score, represent a change in growth status of a more or less permanent nature, respectively. After adjusting for confounding factors, children from the exposed community (n = 103) had a significantly smaller mean of status change by height (p < 0.05), and a somewhat smaller mean of status change by weight (0.10 < p < 0.05) in comparison to children from an unexposed community (n = 94). A dose-response curve was then expected in the exposed community. However, in multiple regression analyses of the exposed children, noise exposure was not related to either change in growth status variable. This second result is inconsistent with the differences between communities and suggests that they are a result of factors other than noise exposure. We conclude that the moderate to severe noise levels of the areas surrounding most subjects' homes did not adversely affect postnatal growth. Further studies of noise and growth should concentrate observations on people exposed to even more severe noise levels than those experienced by most subjects in this study.