Question of the Day: Shooting While Pregnant?

Nur Suryani Mohd Taibi  at 2012 Olympics (courtesy arabnews.com)

After reading articles like this one on the dangers of lead exposure at gun ranges, TTAG reader Chris writes:

My name is Chris and I live in Texas. I have been searching the interwebs but can’t find a definitive answer so thought I would ask ya’ll to see if you know or know someone who knows the answer to my question. My wife is 11 weeks pregnant and as a result of a recent event, she decided she finally wants her CHL. Is it advisable for her to go shooting, a couple of times just to ensure she is comfortable and competent and then the actual certification course as part of the class, or is the risk of lead exposure and noise exposure to our unborn child too great?

comments

  1. avatar Bob Wall says:

    Let me tell ya, my future granddaughter, Morgan Jane, would love for mom to do more range time!

    A good indoor range is going to have a vent system, and if lead dust is still an issue, momma can wear a paper mask while shooting.

    1. avatar Cuteandfuzzybunnies says:

      I would NOT worry about the lead or dust that much. It’s minimum exposure with the few times she is likely to go. Of course outdoor range or indoor with a good vent system is important.

      I would however NOT advise her to shoot do to the noise. Perhaps if you have access to a supresed fire arm ,ideally in a sub sonic caliber , you could shoot safely while pregnant. But regardless of the ear protection she uses- there is no way to protect the baby’s ears. According to our dr( my wife wanted to know if she could shoot while pregnant) the womb does not offer enough hearing protection for fire arm level noise.

      1. avatar Jeremy S says:

        At about 16 weeks, a fetus can begin to hear. The ear bones and other things are in place. I wouldn’t want my wife to shoot without a suppressor at basically any point during the pregnancy. It could actually damage the baby’s hearing. Lead exposure seems like a smaller risk and one that’s a lot easier to mitigate. I’d shoot outside with her but I wouldn’t go to an indoor range that has a bunch of folks shooting inside. Just so happens the wife is actually preggers and is due in just 3 weeks now… she has managed to avoid discharging a firearm over the past 8 months.

        1. avatar Kevin says:

          While it is noisy, the amniotic fluid inside the uterus inside of my wife’s skin inside of her clothing is better hearing protection than any designed for those of us on the outside.

          My 7 week old daughter tested just fine on the hearing test and I couldn’t keep her mother from going to range every other week during pregnancy clear up to 7 days prior to her birth.

        2. avatar Jeremy S says:

          Kevin, that is not the scientific consensus. Please see my post at bottom (this link should take you right there) for links to scientific articles on the subject and quotes from one related directly to firearms use during pregnancy.

          It is absolutely not worth the risk. The need to shoot recreationally during an ~8-month period doesn’t outweigh the possible negative effects of doing so.

        3. avatar Tomyironmane says:

          For too long, the government has conducted a war on suppressors… De-regulate them! Think of the poor unborn children!

        4. avatar Joe R. says:

          +1

          With a suppressor you could shoot while GETTING pregnant (your results may vary, but I would applaud your grouping either way).

        5. avatar Kevin says:

          @JeremyS: thanks for pointing me towards written studies that are available. Regardless of what they say or whether I agree with thier findings, I appreciate the rational thought, backed by reasoned information. It is much more conducive to what I’ve always felt that commenting should be about. It’s a dang sight better than just telling me I’m stupid or that I’m going to burn in hell for taking a chance with my wife & children. I will check out the information some more.

  2. avatar Rob.G says:

    Personally, I would advise against taking the risk.

    1. avatar Roscoe says:

      Then best not breathe the air or drive in a car either.

      1. avatar GSL45 says:

        While we’re at it, let’s just all kill ourselves – mitigate the risk entirely.

        It’s about calculated risk, and a cost-benefit analysis. The benefit of recreational shooting is minor compared to the significant risk of harm to the unborn child.

  3. avatar Simon says:

    I would advise against it. It’s not so much about the lead exposure (which can be mitigated with hand-washing and basic hygeine), but rather the noise.

    A study was done using pregnant sheep, and they found that loud impulses can damage the inner ear of the sheep fetus. http://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/viewtopic.php?t=103012

    In my opinion, it’s not worth the risk. I had to make the same choice when my wife was pregnant with our son (who is 1 year old now). She took a hiatus from shooting until the baby was delivered. Your wife can take the CHL after the baby is born. You do your job, as a man, to protect your bride during these especially vulnerable months.

    1. avatar Delmarva Chip says:

      Perhaps there’s a virtual range that she could use with the sound turned off so that she can practice shooting at “real” targets without the lead/noise exposure?

      That and dry fire are what I think would be the best options.

    2. avatar Juliesa says:

      Thanks. I suspected that. All the more reason to make suppressors easily available. For the children.

      Although I understand the noise isn’t completely suppressed, why have laws that make it harder for people to protect their hearing?

  4. avatar Tex300BLK says:

    What does it accomplish that justifies the risk? Just dont… seriously.

    I will add, most ranges I have ever been to prohibit it… so if she’s showing its a no go even if you decide to screw the potential consequences.

  5. avatar Duke says:

    I wouldn’t. Not so much for the lead but the noise would probably be a really bad idea.

    1. avatar Gene says:

      Hearing is at about 16 weeks, apparently (http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/your-baby/week-16/ear.aspx)

      Having said that, there’s a big difference between going to a public indoor range where folks are using larger and noisier calibers vs going to your own property and shooting subsonic 22’s outside (68 db?). http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/100/4/724.full is an interesting read.

      As other’s have suggested, PB exposure is easily mitigated by adequate hand washing, not smoking while shooting, etc.

      But, I’m not s doctor or anything….

  6. avatar mark_anthony_78 says:

    More proof that the government should “un-ban” suppressors…

    For the children, of course.

    1. avatar ReadMore says:

      ^+10000

    2. avatar Juliesa says:

      Oh I hadn’t seen your comment when I posted above. You way beat me to it.

    3. avatar Cuteandfuzzybunnies says:

      Well we could get a pregnant woman to go to get a Cleo sign off then sue when she is turned down under ADA or something close? Te problem is the suit would likely take longer than the pregnancy BUT might be allowed to continue IF she could show she was likely to get pregnant again. Maybe a group of pregnant women and moms?
      This is a real good way to over turn sme cities no sign off policy.

  7. avatar pwrserge says:

    I’d say that unless your wife is planning to go licking the backstop, the lead and noise exposures are not critical. This is especially true at 11 weeks. (In the case of noise.) Just take her on a slow day and make it a quick 20-40 minute exercise. It should be a non-issue. Pregnant women are not made out of porcelain. Take it easy, but 99.9% of normal activities should be fine.

    1. avatar jlottmc says:

      This exactly. I went so far as to ask my wife’s ob/gyn, and was very blunt when I did. This was seven years ago, my child is fine and eagerly awaits her first trip to the range. I was told your child is protected well, and that neither mom or child are that fragile. That said, I would do as pwrserge says and take it a little easy. The CHL course when I shot it is a joke and has only gotten easier (2nd renewal). You could also talk to the instructor and see if they will agree to let your wife on the range before or after everyone goes at once, or a different day. Outdoor ranges are a good option too, especially this time of year. As for ranges not allowing pregnant women, I have yet to see that around DFW. My two centimes, and they’re worth exactly what you paid for them.

  8. avatar Shire-man says:

    It’s a wonder any babies are ever born anymore with all the fear and fuss folks put into an essentially automated process.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      Well, babies are mass-produced with un-skilled labor..

      anyways…

      When I had that Super Redhawk in .44 mag, as I was shooting it, I could feel the concussion travel, front to rear, through my teeth.

      That leads me to believe it can’t be a Martha Stewart “Good Thing” to expose a developing brain and ears to that kind of shock.

      Unless it was a pregnant gun-grabber.

    2. avatar Drew says:

      An automated process that un aided has something like a 50% failure rate.

  9. avatar beerwhisperer says:

    As a retired nurse anesthetist I can attest to the precautions my pregnant associates took to avoid exposure to X-Rays, anesthetic gases, N20, joint cement fumes, etc. With the absorbability and toxicity of lead salts from the primers, and the possible effects on the fetus of loud noises (no ear muffs for baby, sounds travel better in liquids), I would have her dry-fire at home until the baby is out. Why risk it?

    1. avatar Chris says:

      [q]sounds travel better in liquids[/q]

      Sounds travel best in solids – by this logic our brains would be exploding even WITH earmuffs.

      I’m most interested in reading the following reference, listed in a comment elsewhere – the concept goes against everything I know about sound transmission.

      [8]. Gerhardt KJ, Abrams RM, Huang X, Griffiths SK, Peters AJ. Intra-abdominal sound pressure levels during impulse noise exposure in sheep. Mil Med. 2000;165(2):153-156 MEDLINE

  10. avatar Jim R says:

    Probably better off waiting until after the child has arrived.

  11. avatar jwm says:

    This just came up this past weekend. Daughter, who is just newly preggers, asked to borrow 20 ga. to go trap and skeet shooting with baby daddy. Told her no and why. Not worth the risk to my grandbrat. (That and guns borrowed by my kids have a tendecy to stay borrowed. After the little one is here she can have the 20 ga. all she wants. Gives me an excuse to buy another gun.)

  12. avatar Cody says:

    My range prohibits it at a certain point due to noise. But my wife and I might make it down to the range to break in my new rifle now that our four month old can stay with grandma for a few hours.

    I’d avoid the risk of the noise, I’m not sure I buy the lead thing.

  13. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Take a dip in a pond or pool and have someone over you shoot. Don’t hear much do you. The skin, membrane, uterin wall, and amniotic fluid is a great suppressor of noise.
    Just shoot outdoors and don’t let her handle brass or clean the gun.

    Think about it. Pregnant women have been around noise forever.

    1. avatar Tex300BLK says:

      Just FYI, because I’m a physics guy, sound travels faster and at a much higher frequency through water than it does through air. Another FYI, higher frequency sound is harder to tell, just using your ear, how loud it is. Unfortunately 18k Hz even though barely audible as maybe a hiss or screech at 160db will in fact cause just as much hearing damage as 3000 Hz (my uneducated guess at the actual frequency of a gunshot) at the same 160db. Since water is more dense and doesn’t compress like air, sound also travels further and maintains its energy longer than the same sound wave through air (think those cool chrome balls psychatrists have on their desk, they work because they barely compress and those transfer more of their energy for a longer time over a greater distance).

      So your analogy of hearing gunshots from underwater and them seeming quieter is only partially right. It seemed quieter because the frequancy was higher and to the naked ear its harder to tell. However, because of the aforementioned properties of sound the effective sound attenuation was mostly perceived and did no less damage to your hearing than if you were standing as far away from the muzzle as the surface of the water you were in. Now the bigger factor in pregnant women shooting is not the water the baby is in, but the inches of belly fat and muscle between the baby and the outside world, but thats an entirely different discussion.

      So yeah it probably wont do anything but why? What reason do you have to not wait and does it outweigh the potential risk to the baby? People smoke for their whole lives and live to old age and die of something completely unrelated of cancer all while running marathons the whole time. Some people get stage 4 lung cancer from smoking a few packs in their 20’s. Heck forget the sound and lead, what if there is an accident at the range and your wife is injure? “Well that could happen anytime you say” Yeah, but sometimes an otherwise survivable injury can cause a miscarriage or serious problems when you are with a baby so again, why?

      1. avatar Refaim says:

        You forget the laws of reflection/transmission associated with crossing the boundary… When there is a large difference in impedance across the boundary there is less transmission of energy and more reflection.

        For a pure air water interface the reduction is about 30db… consider there is an air to flesh and then a flesh to fluid transition (not as much difference, but you can see it on an ultrasound… thus it’s reflecting some sound), the baby is probably better protected than you with the best ear muffs.

      2. avatar CBI says:

        Another physicist here, expanding on what Tex300BLK wrote.

        * Water has a much higher “acoustic impedance” than air; as a result, the non-reflected sound energy is coupled fairly well into the water inside the transmission cone (about 25 degrees).

        * Because the womb is so small, a significant amount of the sound that would be reflected also couples “evanescently” into the amniotic fluid to the depth of the baby’s ear. (This is true for all but the highest audio frequencies, whose evanescent waves don’t go as deep: this is one reason why voices sound “garbled” when your head is underwater: the spectral intensities are shifted nonuniformly.)

        * The acoustic spectrrum of a pistol shot is quite broadband and fairly flat: in other words, there is about as much energy (per Hertz) at low frequencies as at high.

        * As a result, for all practical purposes, the baby is experiencing sound levels not much less nor much different than an unprotected person would at the same distance and orientation from the firearm.

        * A couple of studies of the effects of noise on foetuses and neo-nates have been cited: they make sense and are consistent with the above.

        * In my opinion, the lead exposure is much easier to control, but, unless you can get the noise highly reduced (subsonic ammo, suppressor), the noise problem is a show-stopper.

        * NOTE: this is for practice or testing environments. In the case of an actual emergency (e.g., bad guy in the house), the risk comparisons change drastically: hearing-injured baby and mother are less consequential than dead baby and mother.

      3. avatar Peggy Stevens says:

        My daughter-in-law went to a gun range a couple of times before her 18 wk OB appt. There was no heartbeat at all this time when, at the previous appointment, the baby’s heartbeat was very strong. Labor was induced & the baby girl had choked to death, having her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck several times. Could the repeated sound of loud gunfire have startled her so bad it caused her to flip several times wrapping the umbilical cord so tightly around her throat that it choked her to death. Is this feasible?

        1. avatar Jerkface McGee says:

          I am not a doctor, but as others have stated, hearing develops at around 16 weeks, so there was a very small window. I believe the likelihood is low [though not nonexistent].

          Now, having said that, as someone who is currently trying to have a child, I am sorry for your loss and I hope the setback hasn’t negatively affected your daughter-in-law, or your (I’m assuming) son.

    2. avatar rustybx says:

      Talk to any woman who’s shot at the range late in term.

      They fire once before packing up and going home.

      The pain they receive from the baby’s kick won’t be matched by anything until the pain of actual birth….assuming natural delivery.

      Argue the physics if you like but the proof is in the baby’s response. Don’t do it.

  14. avatar ColdNorth says:

    This might be a bit extreme, but here goes:

    Could you take her to an outdoor range instead? That would help with airborne lead exposure. The majority of lead exposure is via inhalation, but lead compounds (like the kind created when a gun fires) can be absorbed via the skin.

    Also, consider using TMJ or JHP rounds that have the base of the lead in the bullet covered. Some lead will vaporize from the bottom of an exposed round (most FMJ has the base exposed). If you can find cartridges that use lead-free primers that will function properly in your chosen gun, that would help. Apart from potential contamination on the range, you’d reduce lead exposure to almost nil that way.

    Afterwards, follow proper clean up procedures. Wipe your hands with D-Lead wipes immediately after handling your firearms. Wear range specific clothing, remove it after the trip, and place it in a bag. Wash clothing separately. Same goes for shoes and your hat- wear range specific ones, wipe them afterwards. Wear gloves. Shower immediately. Wipe down your firearms and cases used for transport.

    Get a lead testing kit, and test all your firearms related things. With a bit of common sense you can reduce exposures.

    I read several studies on lead exposure, and apparently Vitamin C taken beforehand and over time has a protective effect. Consider upping Vitamin C doses if your doctor says its safe to do so.

    Overkill? It only sounds that way when I list it out like that. In reality, it’s all pretty simple stuff you’re probably doing already. Might add five-ten minutes to your routine.

  15. avatar Chip Bennett says:

    My advice?

    Read What to Expect When You’re Expecting, realize that there’s way too much paranoid risk-aversion today with respect to pregnant women, and then proceed to do whatever you think is best.

  16. avatar Kyle in CT says:

    Air on the side of caution, make it a post-baby present.

    As a side note, leathers are cheating.

  17. avatar former water walker says:

    NO. Err(or air) on the side of caution. Shoot after the kid is born. Noise & lead are bad for adults. I cringe when I see an extremely pregnant woman do crossfit weightlifting. I’ve been covered in lead dust after shooting dirty ammo. My kids are all grown-up. One turned out abnormal even though we did everything right. My wife especially was careful. And it still happened.

  18. avatar Tori S says:

    Use a can and do it outdoors. IMHO.

  19. avatar Accur81 says:

    I wouldn’t due to both lead and noise risk. If you could shoot outdoors with lead free ammo, and minimize your noise signature, then maybe.

    My wife was a high risk pregnancy, and every doctor we spoke to advised us against taking her shooting. YMMV.

    Then again, you won’t have time for anything once that kid is born unless you’ve got grandparents nearby.

  20. avatar johnb says:

    I would also have concern on the noise level. Hearing loss is cumulative.

    “fetal hearing loss” brings up a lot of hits…I took the time to quickly read this one
    http://www.oem.msu.edu/userfiles/file/News/Hv6n3.pdf

  21. avatar sagebrushracer says:

    seems everyone is hitting 2 and missing 3.
    1. Lead, yes, minimal or eliminate the exposure. I agree 100%!
    2. Noise, ehh, not a doctor but between tissue, membranes and fluid, I don’t think this is even a issue. Basic Gun safety and how to aim and fire can even be taught with airsoft or a PB gun.
    3. Risk of incident, not to be overly harsh, but what use is protecting baby from the first 2 if mom is attacked or needs a gun to defend her own safety? Will mom be comforted in knowing she can defend herself, or a nervous wreck otherwise?

    1. avatar Tex300BLK says:

      Re point #3, Sheesh where do you live? Fallujah Iraq? and why is that risk suddenly so pressing that she has to go to the range and take her CHL class in less than 9 months?

      Forget the lead and assume the sound isn’t an issue. What if she miscarries because of a simple accident like slipping on a shell casing and falls on her ass while at the range? Or maybe takes a ricochet to the stomach which would normally be survivable if there wasn’t a developing human being occupying that space?

      My point, and the point of so many others in here is… why the damn rush? Sounds like daddy might be one of those paranoid types who thinks mommy wont be able to get her CHL if she doesnt get it before the midterm elections or some other nonsense, because the gubbmint. If your neighborhood is that dangerous that your wife suffers from anxiety and needs a permit to carry a gun before 9 months is over, why did you wait until now to get her CHL? Why not just move? Does she even want to do this or is he pressuring her? Sounds to me like someone needs to chill out.

      Buy her some snapcaps or one of those fancy laser light target round systems if you are so desperate.

      1. avatar sagebrushracer says:

        Re: Re Point 3

        I agree, the risk of getting into a fender bender on the way to see the OB/GYN or getting run over by a retard in a shopping cart on black friday is much more likely. So is slipping in the shower.

        Yet, on a blog that frequently runs stories about “it should have been a DGU”, that the odds off needing a firearm for defense are incredibly low, but not Zero.

        As for the burning rush, to quote the question “as a result of a recent event, she decided she finally wants her CHL”. That would be the rush that is burning. All that remains is for the prospective parents to weigh the risks of lead and sound exposure vs the need to use a firearm for defense.

        IMO when a person asks me for advice, I feel it is to present the facts and opinions as you see them then step back and let them make their decision. The hardest part is not to jump all over them if they make a decision that you don’t agree with. Or some other person that offers their opinion that you don’t like. On the internet. for the children. because guns.

        Carry on.

  22. avatar dano says:

    You can follow the advice of some posters here and ignore the dangers of lead to a developing fetus, then you’ll end up with a kid who grows to to be a retard who thinks lead isn’t harmful to a fetus and brags about it on ttag.

    Julie Golob covered this topic in her book.

    1. avatar former water walker says:

      Book it dano. May I add when I was a kid (60 years ago) the thinking was nothing affected the baby in the womb. We know better now.

    2. avatar beerwhisperer says:

      Damn Dano, that’s the way to sugarcoat it.

  23. avatar Bob72 says:

    A number of states do not require range time to qualify. If Texas does not require it, I would have her get it while the iron is hot. Follow the course with a lot of dry fire training and holster work. Keep it fun but serious. A laser target system and a little competition with the hubby will help with the fun part. Once she has the baby, have her attend PPITH and PPOTH, along with a lot of range time.

  24. avatar Kory says:

    Government says pregnant women can have double flu shots, so why not add a little bit of lead as well?

    Anyhow, my wife was just pregnant and we kept her away from lead and gave her extra iodine. Baby is super smart without any issues.

    Your life, your choice…

  25. avatar clayton pascik says:

    Results of these studies suggest that: (1) exposure to excessive noise during pregnancy may result in high-frequency hearing loss in newborns, and may be associated with prematurity and intrauterine growth retardation, (2) exposure to noise in the NICU may result in cochlear damage, and (3) exposure to noise and other environmental factors in the NICU may disrupt the normal growth and development of premature infants. On the basis of these study results, noise-induced health effects on fetuses and newborns merit further study as clinical and public health concerns
    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/100/4/724.full

    1. avatar clayton pascik says:

      Above is the findings of evidence based studies, not supposition. Lead exposure is bad for fetuses, so is exposure to loud noises, these are the facts what you do with them is up to you.

  26. avatar John Boch says:

    Our policy as instructors with GSL Defense Training:

    We strongly discourage pregnant women from taking training and shooting aside from self-defense circumstances.

    If we have a woman who says it’s okay with her doc and she feels she must take training (personal preparedness to a specific threat, for instance), we will mandate them to sit out any indoor shooting segments.

    If it’s early in the pregnancy, we’ll make sure they are as upwind as possible of the smoke/lead dust that accompanies groups firing simultaneously.

    If that’s not feasible, we’ll detail an instructor to take her to a separate range to do the shooting exercises. If she’s “showing” (4-5 months along), we’ll have her complete the shooting with a sub-caliber training gun to lessen the noise.

    Your mileage may vary. However, if it was my wife, I’d want the lead exposure minimalized and that’s what I do for my students who are pregnant.

    John

  27. avatar JustinPo says:

    18 months ago when my wife was pregnant with our son we did quite a bit of research on this. She is a NICU nurse at a major children’s hospital and so was able tO ask quite a few specialist doctors about this. I also combed the internet for opinions.

    Our conclusions were:
    1.) Shoot outdoor or in a reasonably well ventilated range and the lead risk is basically nil.
    2.) The physical exertion is good, you should do as many of your normal activities as possible.
    3.) STOP AT 13 WEEKS, why? EARS, unless you are going to wrap your WIFE/GF in sound insulation the babies ears are fully exposed to the gunshots, in fact the womb acts as a sound amplifier. A babies ears are very sensitive while developing, you can easily do long term/permanent damage if you shoot after 13 weeks.

  28. avatar Timmy! says:

    Couldn’t she get a Florida concealed license for nine months and then a “real” license once she squirts the kid out? Sure, it means buying two licenses but it also means she’s protected (with the concealed handgun) and so is the baby (from all of the badness mentioned above).

    [The “real” is in quotes as a joke, by the way.]

  29. avatar Pg2 says:

    No more dangerous than drinking Coke, or getting flu shot, in fact probably a lot safer.

  30. avatar Cyrano says:

    The noise is what is what we were most concerned about with our two kids so mama put off CCW classes until she wasn’t pregnant. No range time for her if it was centerfire cartridges. The lead thing is minimal especially shooting outdoors. The baby can hear everything you do and it can hear it well so avoid rock concerts, heavy machinery noise, and firearm practice until the little guy comes out to wear his own muffs.

  31. avatar Bernard says:

    Just let her play Battlefield or Time Crisis.

  32. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    The comments about noise causing hearing damage to your wife’s baby in the womb are silly. Simply press a finger over each ear and what you can hear in the room is comparable to what a baby would hear in the womb. In other words it is pretty darned effective hearing protection.

    As for lead exposure, simply use lead free range ammunition … such as Winchester’s WinClean range ammunition or Remington’s UMC Leadless ammunition. And if you are extra paranoid, have your wife don a respirator. Like others said, indoor ranges are supposed to operate ventilation systems to actively remove the combustion components from the range.

    Oh, and have your wife put her clothes in the laundry and promptly shower when she gets home.

    Combine these three factors and she and the baby will be absolutely fine.

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      Your assertions on volume levels in the womb are not the scientific consensus.

      http://journals.lww.com/thehearingjournal/Fulltext/2014/06000/Make_Fetal_Noise_Protection_Part_of_Audiology_Care.5.aspx

      http://www.hear-it.org/Protect-your-unborn-baby-against-hearing-loss

      A study concerning pregnant police officers: http://www.theppsc.org/Staff_Views/Czarnecki/pregnant_officer.htm

      Noise toxicity

      Noise usually is considered to be detrimental during pregnancy. In most European countries, health regulations forbid pregnant women from working in surroundings with a continuous noise level greater than 80 dB or a rapid-impulse noise level greater than 40 dB, which is much less than the noise of a firearm [6]. In the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration permissible exposure limit for rapid-impulse noise is 140 dB, with additional regulations for continuous noise. The sound levels of firearms are about 125 to 140 dB for rimfire rifles; 140 to 150 dB for rimfire pistols; and 150 to 160 dB for centerfire rifles, pistols, and shotguns [7].

      Intrauterine measurements showed that the fetus was not significantly protected against loud noises [8]. One study in human volunteers found a maximal intrauterine noise attenuation of 10 dB at 4000 Hz [9]. In a study of ewes, the noise attenuation was 20 dB at 4000 Hz, but the noise inside the uterus was 2 to 5 dB greater at 250 Hz [10]. In comparison, foam plugs offer attenuation of 12 to 20 dB and are considered to be the least effective hearing protection [7].

      Noise exposure during pregnancy has been associated with several disorders, including miscarriage [11,12], intrauterine growth retardation [13,14,16], preterm delivery [12,15,16], hearing loss in babies and children [17], altered immune response in the fetus [18], and hypertension [12]. A combined exposure to noise and lead seems to have an increased toxicity, causing heart lesions, which are not observed for those agents alone [19].

      Lead toxicity

      There is an extensive body of research showing that lead exposure is harmful to the fetus. Lead crosses the placenta and is transmitted from the mother to the fetus [1]. Lead exposure during pregnancy has been associated with serious complications, including spontaneous abortion, premature membrane rupture, preeclampsia, pregnancy hypertension [3], and neurobehavioral effects in infants and children [1]. Even at low levels, lead exposure has been associated with preterm delivery; congenital abnormalities [4]; and decreased birth weight, length, and head circumference [2].

      Recommendations

      The available scientific knowledge does not provide evidence that firearm use is safe during pregnancy. Data also show that noise and lead are significantly toxic during pregnancy.

      Pregnant officers should not shoot firearms, unless in self-defense, and should avoid shooting ranges. “

      1. avatar Former Water Walker says:

        Thanks Jeremy. I can’t believe all the MEN on here advocating that they know what will or won,t happens to their wife/daughter. Or their kid or grandkid. I was a volunteer at a childrens hospital years ago. I sawlots or sick and dying babies and children. It makes you pretty damn careful in real life when you understand many of these children had unexplained illnesses. Take a break for your child. Like tex said Fallujah?

      2. avatar Pg2 says:

        Science and consensus are the opposite. Consensus is group think, and science, when applied properly, often rebuts consensus. Scientific consensus is a huge red flag which signals misinformation because of the 2 being polar opposites.

    2. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      “scientific consensus. “

      I’m not disagreeing (or agreeing) with your overall point, but will you PLEASE stop using this nonsensical phrase.

      There is NO CONSENSUS in science. Science is rational – meaning evidence based. When new evidence becomes available, conclusions change. I could easily give a dozen well known examples off the top of my head where folks thought science was “settled” that is now known to be blatantly WRONG due to newer evidence.

      Major league pet peeve here…better phrase, scientifically speaking, would be something along the lines of “current scientific thinking is” or “conclusions based on best evidence presently available,” etc.

      No consensus; that’s political, not rational science.

      1. avatar Chip Bennett says:

        @JR: all the plus-ones.

        “Scientific consensus” is one of my biggest pet peeves.

        1. avatar Pg2 says:

          We actually agree on something.

        2. avatar Chip Bennett says:

          I’ve noticed that there are few to no commenters at TTAG with whom I disagree (or agree) about everything, 100% of the time. I guess we’re really not all that good at that whole echo chamber thing…

  33. avatar preston says:

    ROFLMAO at these completely assumptive and ignorant comments concerning the gun noise hurting the baby’s hearing. its scary that you people are serious about those comments.

  34. avatar KR says:

    99% of what you need to learn about shooting can be practiced with dry fire or Airsoft. She should work on her gun skills (presentation from ready, trigger control, and other post-CHL skills that can be learned and easily practiced without live fire) and wait to get the CHL until the child is not at risk.

  35. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

    There are definitely risks to pregnancy from shooting, but much less discussed are the risks of pregnancy from shooting. Because guns, my friends, are sexy. There, I said it.

    Spend a couple hours out there with you working that pump action shotgun or old school lever action rifle, and she’ll envision you on the 19th century frontier and be primed for action herself. Likewise you watch her comfortably and confidently doing tactical reloads or clearing FTFs by racking that action with authority and taking on targets, you’ll see your sweetie in a new light.

    That can all set a chain of events in motion. It really ought to be taught as the fifth safety rule.

  36. avatar TiC says:

    He’s been given the scientific evidence. If he chooses to ignore it, then that’s his irresponsible and foolish choice. Lead is extremely toxic to fetuses and the damage caused can never be fixed. Why would you even risk it?

    While my wife has been pregnant, I have taken thorough steps to avoid brining any lead from the range into the house. I don’t care if it’s excessive or inconvenient. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for the well being of my children.

    1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      When fear becomes irrational…

  37. avatar Ralph says:

    Are there any documented cases of babies being born deaf because of noise while they were in the womb, or is this just a bunch of guesswork and bullschtein? I don’t know, so I’m asking.

    And when I was shooting 12,000 rounds a year, I had my blood tested annually for lead. It was a waste of money.

    If women really want to keep their babies healthy, they wouldn’t drink fluoridated water. FL is a developmental neurotoxin, right up there with lead. But women still drink the stuff by the quart, and then worry about shooting.

    1. avatar Pg2 says:

      Good point with the FLouride, and there many other commonly accepted toxins fetus’s are exposed to. This argument reminds of the saying being penny wise and pound foolish; people get emotional about the little things, yet so often ignore the elephant in the room.

  38. avatar TL says:

    My wife and I erred on the side of caution with this. During pregnancy she limited her shooting to laser trainers and BB guns. After, we started using Hygenall wipes to mitigate the lead risk.

    I believe the the sound and lead risks to be very low probability, but relatively high consequences in cases where they do occur. Given the risks are fairly easily countered it was something we wanted to do for our beautiful daughter.

    The thought process is fairly similar to why we carry.

  39. avatar Doug says:

    This is a situation calling for an abundance of caution. Deafness, hearing loss, tinnitus are serious possible consequences. If you are husband/lover/father-to-be, you are to be the protector, as un-cool as it may be. Man up.

  40. avatar JoshuaS says:

    I researched this thoroughly once for a friend. Can’t find what I had now, but the summary was, based on advice of doctors and studies about the dangers of noise (taking into account dB AND whether merely an “impact” noise versus continuity), the summary was: lead, at least with jacketed bullets, out-door/ventilated indoor range and basic precautions wasn’t much of a risk, but noise was.

    a .22, the consensus was that as far as impact noise goes, anything above 150-155 dB should be wholly avoided. Which excludes many calibers, at least without suppressors. One study actually fired howitzers (170 dB) with pregnant sheep next to them. They could study both the sound level in utero and hearing damage. Any intense/impact sound above 150-155 ran a notable risk of causing hearing damage to the baby. But it wasn’t guaranteed damage unless repeat (that took 20 times at 170 dB iirc) Sheep wombs/fetuses are similar btw to human.

    As far as “steady state” the line was 115 dB, and even more caution is in contact with loud machinery (concussive force)

    It is indeed true that hear loss is at GREATER risk in a fluid enviroment like the womb, because of the incompressibility of water. While there is some attenuation of sound, it isn’t actually more than hearing muffs would be. .22, especially in rifles, and suppressed guns are the way to go. After 16 weeks of course.

  41. avatar Claymore says:

    Tom – I tried the dunk your head in the pool while someone shoots over you thing. You are right, the sound is greatly attenuated. On the other hand, I’m not allowed to go to the YMCA anymore.

  42. avatar JoshuaS says:

    Found it! This was written to a Canadian lady living in the DC area of Virginia

    Lead exposure is a risk, but this can be completely eliminated (if not at a regular shooting range, but just at your own spot with lead free bullets) or minimized to real safe levels if outdoor, using jacketed rounds and, wearing gloves, washing hands…it isn’t like you are using a reloading press. Indoor ranges, though, even real good ones, have issues with lead. Some require FMJ because of that issue, and generally have expensive air filtration systems. Still not that safe for someone pregnant…especially since DC is one of the worst areas to be around for lead exposure anyways!

    So we move onto the issue of noise. Any noise at about 80 dB, if continuous, is dangerous to your own hearing without protection. 120 dB is about the noise of a jet engine. A 45 acp with a silencer may get as low as 130 dB….yes that is with a silencer. The rule of thumb for the level beyond which one single, brief exposure can cause permanent damage is 140 dB. With most guns being between 145-170 (shotgun)

    Now of course actual loudness will be worse at an indoor range. So cleaarly we should avoid those

    Now you have ear protection. What amount of noise actually reaches the baby and what is harmful?

    Now studies have shown that high frequency sound is largely filtered out by the uterine tissue. But a gun shot is low frequency. Yet the uterine wall does, in itself, effectively have a NRR rating of 25-35 (if we are to pretend it is a form of ear protection), around the same as the ear plugs or muffs you wear shooting (the highest end ones are 36 NRR)

    So we extrapolate by looking at pre-term babies, viz the third semester at least. They have more sensitive hearing, and are particularly vulnerable to low Hz sound. Now most of the noise of a gun is under 250 Hz.

    Looking at the NIH data, they actually did a study. Heck they fired Howitzers to see if that caused hearing damage (it was a pregnant ewe, btw, not a human subject)!

    Basically, sustained noise damages hearing at or above 115 dB , but at or above 95 dB if low frequency. Indoor ranges can cause this sort of constant steady state and o should be avoided.

    So what about outdoors? Individual shots, or impulses of sounds, are less a danger, just as to us. Still anything at or above 155 dB was found to cause permanent damage, at least if repeated (170 dB, or a shotgun, repeated 20 times always caused damage).

    What this all amounts to is that in the 3rd trimester, you can shoot .22 lr safely, wrt to sound, outdoors (it being 134 Db, more or less, out of a rifle and 152 dB out of a pistol). Since most 22 is exposed (non-jacketed) lead, gloves or one should make sure jacketed rounds are used

    Some other calibers hover around 155 dB (32 acp, 25 acp, .223). One can go for quieter loads, like subsonic .223. But your safe bet is 22.

    Or get a silencer…not sure if the ATF will process NFA papers on that for an alien though…and it takes months (they are finally clearing backlog), and the $200 tax stamp….maybe there are places that rent suppressed guns (as should be clear, they aren’t actually silencers)

    Before 16 weeks the consensus is there is little or no risk from sound level.

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