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NICU Noise and the Preterm Infant

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Premature infants in the NICU are often exposed to continuous loud noise despite research documenting the presence and damaging effects of noise on the preterm infant's development. Excessive auditory stimulation creates negative physiologic responses such as apnea and fluctuations in heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation. Preterm infants exposed to prolonged excessive noise are also at increased risk for hearing loss, abnormal brain and sensory development, and speech and language problems. Reducing noise levels in the NICU can improve the physiologic stability of sick neonates and therefore enlarge the potential for infant brain development. Recommendations include covering incubators with blankets, removing noisy equipment from the incubator environment, implementing a quiet hour, educating staff to raise awareness, and encouraging staff to limit conversation near infants.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2009

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