1. Section Editor(s): STOKOWSKI, LAURA A. RN, MS

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The levels of noise and light in the typical NICU are often developmentally inappropriate for preterm infants. Chris Smith, father of a former preterm infant, recognized that although certain levels of light and noise in the NICU were inevitable, much could be done to mitigate excessive levels. He designed a system for the NICU called Sonicu (, Indianapolis, Indiana), an integrated sound monitoring and advisory system that also provides data collection, trending, and archiving of sound levels. Sound level meters and microphones monitor the noise level and a warning system of colored lights based on traffic lights-green, yellow, and red-provides a visual cue to people in the environment. Green indicates an acceptable sound level, yellow warns that sound is approaching dangerous levels, and red calls for immediate quiet. The Sonicu system can be configured to meet the unique requirements of each NICU, for example, either to monitor general ambient noise or to monitor and reduce noise surrounding individual patients.


The Sonicu system can also monitor light levels in the NICU and control overhead lighting in the NICU by turning lights on or off. Or, if desired, it can mimic day-night light cycling, ramping the light level up or down gradually to user-adjusted levels for daytime, evening, and night. It is even possible to use lighting for behavioral modification. Light controls are integrated with sound level monitors so that when the NICU becomes excessively loud, the overhead lights are dimmed to get the attention of the staff members working in the room. This approach has been used successfully in an NICU. A bonus of the Sonicu system is that, as an unbiased judge, it treats everyone equally, giving "soft cues" to individuals who can truly modify their behavior.