Determination of Noise Level and Its Sources in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Neonatal Ward

Document Type: Original Article


1 Research Center of Health, School of Health, Guilan University of Medical Sciences, Rasht, Iran

2 Pediatrics Growth Disorders Research Center, 17 Shahrivar Hospital, School of Medicine, Guilan University of Medical Sciences, Rasht, Iran


Background: In Neonatal intensive care units (NICU) different sound intensities and frequencies are produced from different sources, which may exert undesirable physiological effects on the infants. The aim of this study was to determine the noise level and its sources in the NICU and neonatal ward of Al-Zahra Hospital of Rasht, Iran.
Methods: In this descriptive cross-sectional study, the intensity of the sounds generated by the internal and external sources in the NICU and neonatal ward was measured using a sound level meter device. The sound produced by each of the sources was individually calculated. Data were analyzed performing descriptive and analytical statistics, using SPSS version 19.
Results: The mean noise levels in six rooms and a hallway during morning, afternoon and night shifts with the electromechanical devices turned on were 61.67±4.5, 61.32±4.32 and 60.71±4.56 dB, respectively. Moreover, with the devices tuned off the mean noise levels during morning, afternoon and evening shifts were 64.97±2.6, 60.6±1.29 and 57.91±4.73 dB, respectively. The differences between the mean noise levels in the neonatal wards (standard noise level=45 dB) during each shift with the electromechanical devices turned on and off were statistically significant (P=0.002 and P<0.05, respectively). Phone ring tones in a one meter distance and neonatal crying registered the highest values (85 and 81 dB, respectively).
Conclusion: According to the obtained results, the highest noise levels were generated by the electromechanical devices inside the NICU and neonatal ward, and there were no significant differences in the noise level with the devices turned on and off. Moreover, personnel’s noise-generating behaviors were the main sources of noise. Therefore, it seems that providing educational preparation for the staff can diminish the ambient noise level.


  1. Xie H, Kang J, Mills GH. Clinical review: The impact of noise on patients’ sleep and the effectiveness of noise reduction strategies in intensive care units. Crit Care. 2009; 13(2):208.
  2. Shakerinia I. Relationship examination of noise perception, Psychological Hardiness and Mental Health with Psychological Hardiness and Mental Health with the Quality of life in Inhabitants of Rasht bustle Area. Ijhe. 2011; 3
  3. Gray L, Philbin MK. Effects of the neonatal intensive care unit on auditory attention and distraction. Clin Perinatol. 2004; 31(2):243-60.
  4.  Philbin M, Evans JB. Standards for the acoustic environment of the newborn ICU. J Perinatol. 2006; 26:S27-30.
  5. Bremmer P, Byers JF, Kiehl E. Noise and the premature infant: physiological effects and practice implications. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2003; 32(4):447-54.
  6. Altuncu E, Akman I, Kulekci S, Akdas F, Bilgen H, Ozek E. Noise levels in neonatal intensive care unit and use of sound absorbing panel in the isolate. Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2009; 73(7):951-3.
  7. Berg AL, Chavez CT, Serpanos YC. Monitoring noise levels in a tertiary neonatal intensive care Unit. Contemp Issues Commun Sci Disord. 2010; 37:69-72.
  8. Nathan LM, Tuomi SK, Muller AM. Noise levels in a neonatal intensive care unit in the Cape metropolis. J Child Health. 2008; 2(2):50-4.
  9. Otenio MH, Cremer E, Claro EM. Noise level in a 222 bed hospital in the 18th health region–PR. Braz J Otorhinolaryngol. 2007; 73(2):245-50.
10. Zanouzi F, Ranjbarian M, Afjeie SA. Noise pollution rates in Mofid Children’s Hospital. J Azad Is Univ Med Sci. 2006; 16(3):129-34.