Apple has created volume limiters for the hugely successful iPod following concerns about its effect on users' hearing.

The computer giant's new software allows owners to fix their own personal maximum noise limits.

Parents can set a volume cap on children's iPods and lock them in with a combination code.

An American iPod user is attempting to sue Apple over claims that the MP3 players can cause hearing loss.

Apple's downloadable "volume control" software works with fifth generation iPods and the slim-line iPod nano.

The computer giant's vice president of worldwide iPod product marketing, Greg Joswiak, said: "As the leading provider of digital music players, Apple continuously brings iPod customers innovative and easy to use solutions.

"With the increased attention in this area, we want to offer customers an easy to use option to set their own personal volume limit."

The Royal National Institute for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People (RNID) had earlier launched a campaign warning personal stereo users about the dangers of high volume music.

RNID spokesman Brian Lamb welcomed Apple's announcement and urged other MP3 player and personal stereo manufacturers to follow suit.

He said: "Although we are encouraged by this move, there is still much more work to be done to educate both manufacturers as well as music lovers of the potential dangers of listening to personal music players too loudly."

John Kiel Patterson from Louisiana has filed a complaint against Apple at a Californian court alleging that iPods are "inherently defective in design and are not sufficiently adorned with adequate warnings regarding the likelihood of hearing loss".

Apple's MP3 players can produce sounds of more than 115 decibels, a volume that can damage the hearing of a person exposed to the sound for more than 28 seconds per day, according to his complaint.

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