Effects of Cycled Lighting Versus Continuous Near Darkness on Physiological Stability and Motor Activity Level in Preterm Infants

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Background:Preterm infants generally spend weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit where light intensity can fluctuate as well as be high, leading to physiological instability and increased motor activity in these infants. To date, 2 lighting control methods have been studied: cycled lighting and continuous near darkness. The most appropriate method of lighting is still unknown due to ambivalent results from the studies that have assessed these 2 interventions.Objective:To compare the effects of cycled lighting versus continuous near darkness on physiological stability and motor activity level in preterm infants born between 28 and 32 weeks of gestation.Methods:A randomized clinical trial was conducted to compare physiological stability and motor activity level in preterm infants assigned to cycled lighting or continuous near darkness. Thirty-eight participants were recruited and randomly assigned to one of the lighting conditions for 24 hours. Physiological stability was measured using the Stability of the Cardiorespiratory System in Premature Infants (SCRIP) score, the means, and the coefficient of variation of each physiological parameter measured. The level of motor activity was measured with an accelerometer.Results:There were no significant differences between the 2 groups with regard to physiological stability measured by the SCRIP score, means, and coefficient of variation as well as motor activity level. Participants in both groups were physiologically stable and their motor activity level was comparable.Implications for Practice and Research:Neither cycled lighting nor continuous near darkness negatively impacted infant's physiologic stability and motor activity level. Further research is required to identify the most appropriate lighting control method for preterm infants born between 28 and 32 weeks of gestation.

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