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Office of Neuroscience Research > WUSTL Neuroscience News > NICU study highlights need to reduce loud noises, boost beneficial sounds

NICU study highlights need to reduce loud noises, boost beneficial sounds

From the WUSTL Newsroom...

Premature babies often spend the first several weeks of life in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), where, ideally, they are protected from too much noise stimulation. However, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that preemies may be exposed to noise levels higher than those deemed safe by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Conversely, the researchers also found that some preemies may not get enough exposure to beneficial sounds, such as language and music, that can improve early development. The researchers found that in private rooms, which are more and more common in the NICU, babies encounter much longer periods of silence than in areas of the unit where multiple cribs are in the same room. They also learned that many of the sounds in the NICU are mechanical in nature and very different from the beneficial sounds of a human voice.

The study is published Feb. 8 in The Journal of Pediatrics.

“We know that some exposure to sound — even among preemies — can be beneficial,” said first author Bobbi Pineda, an assistant professor of occupational therapy and of pediatrics. “But sounds don’t occur alone. When parents talk to their newborns, they often also hold and caress their babies — all things that help promote healthy development.”

For the complete article, click here.