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Noise and the Neonate
Premature babies are fragile. One of their special needs is quiet time. In utero, the fetus is in deep sleep approximately 80% of the time with very few interruptions.1 However, in the neonatal intensive care unit(NICU), high noise levels and frequent handling leave the babies sleep deprived and may disrupt their normal growth and development.2 Furthermore, noise in the NICU environment is considered a factor in altering the behavioral and physiological responses of infants and may be responsible for some developmental disabilities and hearing loss found in premature infants.3
Over a decade's worth of research shows that common sounds, such as closing the incubator porthole, may reach levels from 100 dB up to 135 dB -- the equivalent to that of exposing a neonate's sensitive ears and immature nervous system to the noise level of a rock concert.2,3,4
The American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Environmental Health, recommends a maximum safe noise level of 45 dB in the NICU.2 Yet, clinical studies show that the average sound levels in the NICU range anywhere from 70 to 80 dB.5 More importantly, researchers have documented that reduced noise levels in the NICU:
An important part of optimizing NICU care for premature newborns is the reduction of high-intensity noise exposure to babies. The table below provides an overview of different noise levels and their effects on the neonate.
Noise Levels and Their Effects2
MiniMuffs® Neonatal Noise Attenuators provide a comfortable, easy-to-use solution for decreasing the noise levels for babies in the NICU. They are specifically designed for premature infants and decrease noise levels to the baby by at least 7dB, representing a reduction in sound pressure of more than 50%.6