Recommended permissible noise criteria for occupied, newly constructed or renovated hospital nurseries. The Sound Study Group of the National Resource Center

J Perinatol. 1999 Dec;19(8 Pt 1):559-63. doi: 10.1038/


Objective: To base permissible noise criteria for occupied, new nurseries on research findings.

Study design: An interdisciplinary group of clinicians reviewed the literature regarding the effect of sound on the fetus, newborn, and preterm infant and based recommended criteria on the best evidence. An external panel subsequently reviewed the criteria.

Results: The recommended criteria: Patient bed areas and the spaces opening onto them shall be designed to produce minimal ambient noise and to contain and absorb much of the transient noise that arises within the nursery. The overall, continuous sound in any bed space or patient care area shall not exceed: (1) an hourly Leq of 50 dB and (2) an hourly L10 of 55 dB, both A-weighted, slow response. The 1-second duration Lmax shall not exceed 70 dB, A-weighted, slow response.

Conclusion: The permissible noise criteria will protect sleep, support stable vital signs, and improve speech intelligibility for many infants most of the time.

Publication types

  • Guideline
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Fetus / physiology*
  • Health Facility Environment / standards
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn / physiology*
  • Infant, Premature / physiology
  • Interior Design and Furnishings / standards*
  • Noise / adverse effects*
  • Nurseries, Hospital / standards*
  • Pregnancy
  • United States