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Signa Vitae

Journal of Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine

Humanizing critical care


Sleep is important for human neurocognitive, emotional and physical health. Increasing evidence shows that the intensive care unit environment is disruptive to sleep patterns. Such disruption is unpleasant to patients, but mounting evidence suggests that it may also worsen outcome. However, improvements in the patient experience are readily obtained through simple measures such as the use of eyepads and earplugs. Early data suggest that such interventions are not only kind, but may impact on patient outcomes such as delirium rates.

Key words: sleep, light, noise, sound, eyepad, earplug

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The effect of ambient noise in the NICU on cerebral oxygenation in preterm neonates on high flow oxygen therapy


In this early pilot study, we sought to determine if the alteration in these physiologic effects in premature infants in response to ambient noise in the NICU could be assessed evaluating cerebral blood saturation. Three premature infants, on high flow nasal cannula oxygen support (HFNC), at less than 34 weeks of gestation were included in the study. Three variables were used to evaluate sound levels due to AAP and EPA guidelines; Leq,1h, L10,1h and Lmax,1min.

All of the patients studied were found to be exposed to statistically significant noise levels (above recommendation) throughout all of the time periods measured. Noise levels were found to be similarly elevated during the 1 am and 3 pm time periods as well, though not as much as compared to the 7 am measure. A statistically significant difference was found within every patient’s rSO2 levels in both hemispheres, but also in the absolute differences of rSO2. Positive significant statistical correlations were found between the average rSO2 and Leq,1h (ρ=0.14), Lmax,1min (ρ=0.18), L10,1h (ρ=0.15). Significant negative correlations were found between the absolute difference levels and Lmax,1min (ρ=-0.3), and L10,1h (ρ=-0.18)

This data highlights the need for further study as to the potential impact of noise on the cerebral physiology of premature infants. Further research is needed to assess the potential long-term side effects of environmental noise on the premature infant’s brain.

Key words: noise, infant, new-born, neonatology, noise measurement

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