The effects of a sound-modified environment on physiological variables in premature infants in neonatal intensive care

Document Type



Doctor of Education (EdD)


Exceptional Student Education

First Advisor's Name

Stephen Strichart

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Wendy Cheyney

Third Advisor's Name

Jose Adams

Date of Defense



This study investigated the effects of sound reduction on physiological variables in premature infants in neonatal intensive care. Ten premature infants born between 27 and 36 weeks gestation wore a specially designed earmuff cap for a 45-minute rest period. Heart rate, respiration rate, oxygen saturation level and behavioral state were measured and compared to a similar 45-minute control period without the earmuff cap. Subjects showed a significant decrease (p = .050) in mean respiration rate, and a significant increase (p < .02) in mean oxygen saturation level with the earmuff cap on. No significant differences were found in heart rate between the experimental condition and the control condition. Behavioral state was documented only as a potentially confounding variable, however a significant decrease (p < .05) in the time spent awake and a significant increase (p < .05) in the time spent in quiet sleep rather than active sleep occurred with the earmuff cap on. Findings suggest that noise reduction may be a viable means of increasing respiratory efficiency and the amount and quality of sleep in premature infants in neonatal intensive care.




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