Original Article

The Indian Journal of Pediatrics

, 75:217

First online:

Spectral analysis of noise in the neonatal intensive care unit

  • M. D. LiveraAffiliated withSt John’s Medical College Hospital
  • , B. PriyaAffiliated withSt John’s Medical College Hospital
  • , A. RameshAffiliated withSt John’s Medical College HospitalDepartment of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, St. John’s Medical College Hospital Email author 
  • , P. N. Suman RaoAffiliated withSt John’s Medical College Hospital
  • , V. SrilakshmiAffiliated withSt John’s Medical College Hospital
  • , M. NagapoornimaAffiliated withSt John’s Medical College Hospital
  • , A. G. RamakrishnanAffiliated withMedical intelligence and language engineering laboratory, Department of Electrical engineering, Indian Institute of Science
  • , M. DominicAffiliated withSt John’s Medical College Hospital
  • , SwarnarekhaAffiliated withSt John’s Medical College Hospital

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Abstract

Objective

To perform spectral analysis of noise generated by equipments and activities in a level III neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and measure the real time sequential hourly noise levels over a 15 day period.

Methods

Noise generated in the NICU by individual equipments and activities were recorded with a digital spectral sound analyzer to perform spectral analysis over 0.5–8 KHz. Sequential hourly noise level measurements in all the rooms of the NICU were done for 15 days using a digital sound pressure level meter. Independent sample t test and one way ANOVA were used to examine the statistical significance of the results. The study has a 90% power to detect at least 4 dB differences from the recommended maximum of 50 dB with 95 % confidence.

Results

The mean noise levels in the ventilator room and stable room were 19.99 dB (A) sound pressure level (SPL) and 11.81 dB (A) SPL higher than the maximum recommended of 50 dB (A) respectively (p < 0.001). The equipments generated 19.11 dB SPL higher than the recommended norms in 1–8 KHz spectrum. The activities generated 21.49 dB SPL higher than the recommended norms in 1–8 KHz spectrum (p< 0.001). The ventilator and nebulisers produced excess noise of 8.5 dB SPL at the 0.5 KHz spectrum.

Conclusion

Noise level in the NICU is unacceptably high. Spectral analysis of equipment and activity noise have shown noise predominantly in the 1–8 KHz spectrum. These levels warrant immediate implementation of noise reduction protocols as a standard of care in the NICU.

Key words

Noise in neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)