The Relationship Between Hospital Construction and High-Risk Infant Auditory Function at NICU Discharge: A Retrospective Descriptive Cohort Study

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Purpose:To describe the difference in auditory function at neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) discharge between high-risk infant cases exposed to hospital construction during NICU stay and those not exposed.Background:Noise produced by routine NICU caregiving exceeds recommended intensity. As California hospitals undergo construction to meet seismic safety regulations, vulnerable neonates are potentially exposed to even higher levels of noise. Ramifications are unknown.Methods:Retrospective data-based descriptive cohort design was used to compare high-risk infant auditory function at NICU discharge between hospital construction exposed and unexposed groups. Sample size: N = 540 infant cases (243 construction exposed and 297 unexposed controls). Inclusion criteria: Infant cases born and discharged from the study site NICU in the year 2010 (unexposed) and year 2015 (exposed) and received a newborn hearing screening by automated auditory brainstem evoked response (ABER) prior to discharge with results reported. Infant cases excluded: hearing screen results by ABER unavailable, potentially confounding characteristics (congenital infection, major anomalies including cleft lip and/or palate), and transferred into or out of the study site. Instrumentation: ABER. Analysis: descriptive statistics (SPSS Version 24.0), hypothesis testing, correlation, and logistic regression.Results:The difference in auditory function at NICU discharge between high-risk infant cases exposed to hospital construction noise and those unexposed was statistically insignificant, χ2 = 1.666, df = 4, p = .1968, 95% confidence interval [−0.635, 2.570].Conclusions:More research is needed to better understand whether hospital construction exposure during NICU admission negatively affects high-risk infant auditory function. Findings may catalyze theory development, future research, and child health policy.

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