Original Article

Journal of Perinatology (2006) 26, S27–S30. doi:10.1038/sj.jp.7211585

Standards for the acoustic environment of the newborn ICU

M K Philbin1 and J B Evans2

  1. 1The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, USA
  2. 2JEAcoustics, Austin, TX, USA

Correspondence: Dr M K Philbin, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, USA. E-mail: philbin@email.chop.edu

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Abstract

Recommended standards for the acoustic environment of the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) have become more protective over time based on research about the deleterious effects of noise and distraction on infants and adults, and on experience in successfully designing and building quiet hospital nurseries. The 2006 Recommended Standards for Newborn ICU Design include an operating, hourly Leq of 45 dBA, hourly L10 of 50 dBA and Lmax of 65 dBA. Rationales are presented for supporting these levels with noise criterion NC-25 for mechanical systems and thorough use of sound containment and absorption strategies. Involvement of an acoustical engineer throughout the design, build and post-construction validation process will help to ensure that objectives are met. Clinicians are reminded that conscientious self-management in maintaining quiet and acoustic privacy continues to be necessary even in NICUs built for quiet.

Keywords:

criteria, noise, design, family, privacy, NICU