manage neonatal stressors
because today decides tomorrow
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF THE NICU
Watch how the staff of Rush University Medical Center combats neonatal stress.
Why Is Recognizing
NICU Stress So Important?
Neonatal stress may have long-term effects on the physiological systems of fragile, preterm infants that may affect their development.1
This website is an educational resource, designed to help you manage neonatal stress and improve patient care.
Neonates experience as many as 16 stressful procedures a day.2
NICU sound levels may range from 54-117 dB. The sound of a jet taking off is 125 dB.4
A neonate’s skin is
40% to 60% thinner
than an adult’s.3
Neonatal exposure to stressors is highest in the 14 days after birth.5
How Do These Stressors Affect Outcomes in Preterm Babies?
Recognize the Signs of Stress in Preterm Babies
3 PHYSIOLOGICAL SIGNS OF STRESS*
Check physiological stress signals that may be reflected in respiration rate, heart rate, and oxygen saturation.6
*All signs of stress may not be described here. These signs may or may not indicate a stressful event.
<100 or >160 beats/min or increase in baseline of ≥5 beats/min6
<40 or >60 breaths/min or increase in baseline of ≥7 breaths/min6
<90% or a decrease of at least 2.5%6
sitting on air
1. Newnham CA, Inder TE, Milgrom J. Measuring preterm cumulative stressors within the NICU: the Neonatal Infant Stressor Scale. Early Hum Dev. 2009;85(9):549-555.
2. De Lima J, Carmo JB. Practical pain management in the neonate. Best Pract & Res Clin Anaesth. 2010;24:291-307.
3. McNichol L, Lund C, Rosen T, Gray M. Medical adhesives and patient safety: state of the science. Orthop Nurs. 2013;32:267-281.
4. Brown G. NICU noise and the preterm infant. Neonatal Netw NN. 2009;28(3):165-173.
5. Smith GC, Gutovich J, Smyser C, et al. Neonatal intensive care unit stress is associated with brain development in preterm infants. Ann Neurol. 2011;70(4):541-549.
6.Peng N-H, Bachman J, Jenkins R, et al. Relationships between environmental stressors and stress biobehavioral responses of preterm infants in NICU. J Perinat Neonatal Nurs. 2009;23(4):363-371.