Sound Levels In the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Brown, Julia
Sound levels in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) are a source of environmental stress to already vulnerable premature infants. Many physiological changes occur when premature infants are exposed to high levels of auditory stimulation and sound levels greater than 45 decibels. This systematic review encompasses several studies exploring the long term auditory and neurological developmental issues in a neonate exposed to excessive auditory stimulation. The early transition from the mother's womb is already stressful. This stress combined with excessive auditory stimulation of the NICU can have a profound impact on the neonate's health. Behavioral and environmental modifications can be made to decrease sound levels to help limit the amount of stress exposed to a high-risk newborn. Physiological stability can be increased through a variety of modifications to the environment or via the manner health care is delivered. With these modifications an infant's heart rate, respiratory rate, and oxygen saturation can improve. Decreased noise levels will help the infant grow and thrive at a healthier rate than with damaging sound levels. The impact on decreasing sound levels in the NICU can be extensive on the premature infant's morbidity.
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