1. Kennedy, Maureen Shawn MA, RN

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A premature infant on a busy neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is exposed to a wide range of noises, many of which can disrupt sleep. As part of a larger study, nurse researchers placed microphones at nine spots in a Florida NICU, in an attempt to measure average and peak noise levels.


They found that the mean and peak levels exceeded recommendations. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that sound levels be "below an hourly loudness equivalent (Leq) of 50 [decibels (dB)], below an hourly L10 (sound level exceeded 10% of the time) of 55 dB, and below a one-second maximum level (Lmax) of 70 dB." In the Florida NICU, the Leq was 60 dB, the L10 was 59.3 dB, and the Lmax was 78.4 dB. Noise levels were highest near the NICU entrances and work stations and during morning shift changes (6 am to 7 am) and morning rounds (10 am to noon).


These results indicate that NICU staff may not be aware of noise levels and may benefit from training in ways to reduce noise, such as conversing outside the NICU, eliminating loudspeaker announcements, and using lights rather than ringers on alarms and telephones.


Krueger C, et al. Neonatal Netw 2005;24(6):33-7.