Noise in a neonatal unit: guidelines for the reduction or prevention of noise

Curationis. 1995 Jun;18(2):16-21.


Advances in medical technology have led to major technological developments in the field of neonatal care. Over the past three decades there has been increasing concern about noise levels in neonatal intensive care units. The experience of working in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and exposure to high noise levels of such a unit prompted the researcher to investigate the sources of noise further and to explore ways of reducing or preventing the occurrence of such noise. The environment of one NICU consisting of a critical care area and a "grower type" nursery was surveyed with the aim of establishing noise levels in such a unit. A GR (General Radio) 1565-B sound level meter was used to measure the noise levels in the NICU and recordings of noise levels were made. Data were entered into the checklist each time a sound level was recorded and later analysed. In the critical care area sound levels ranged from 64-66 dB (A) (A weighted decibel scale) and in the grower nursery from 50-60 dB (A). Recent British and American Standards require that the mean noise levels inside the incubator should not exceed 60 dB (A) which is safe for the adult human ear (Wolke 1987). When compared with the in utero environment the noise levels of the neonatal unit are high and potentially hazardous because of the large numbers of staff and the amount of equipment present. The main findings of the study were that: There is a considerable level of noise in the NICU and this noise persists throughout day and night.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Health Facility Environment*
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal*
  • Noise / prevention & control*