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The Need to Implement Noise Reduction Measurements in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Hospitals in Low and Middle Income Countries-a Case Study

David Emmanuel Del Pozo1 , Natalia Carolina Donoso1* , Galo Antonio Ojeda1 , Bryan Gabriel Valle 1 , Manuel Jesús Gázquez2

Purpose: Improving the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) noise conditions in public hospitals is challenging, especially in low and middle-income countries. The Isidro Ayora General Hospital in Loja-Ecuador does not fall out of this reality. Therefore, this case study evaluates the noise levels in a NICU of a public hospital and proposes a noise mitigation program based on the obtained results.

Methods: A descriptive, observational, and quantitative study was carried out to determine the A decibels to which newborns at two NICUs are exposed. An HD2010UC/A Class 1 integrating portable sound level meter was used to detect noise pollution. Data were recorded in 60 seconds intervals during 24 continuous hours for 7 days. The device was placed at the basic (NICU-B) and intensive-intermediate (NICU-IEI) units, considering height and wall proximity.

Results: In the NICU-B maximum and minimum values were 74.1 and 49.7 dBA; an equivalent daily noise level of 49.3 dBA was recorded. In the NICU-IEI, values were between 71.4 dBA and 47.9 dBA, and the equivalent daily noise level was 53.1 dBA. These results exceed the recommended levels by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ecuadorian Ministerial Agreement 097-A, Regulatory Annex 5.

Conclusions: Other studies evaluating noise levels in other public hospitals in Ecuador or low and middle-income countries are necessary to support these findings. Noise levels in neonatal rooms should be known to implement noise reduction measurements such as incubators with effective acoustic attenuation characteristics, earmuffs to be used on neonates, periodical strict noise controls, etc.

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