Any child born at 36 weeks or earlier is considered premature. At 26 weeks, a baby will most likely fit snugly into their father’s hand, but they lack the ability to curl up or move in any way other than twitching. Their eyes are functioning, but they can’t focus and will keep them shut most of the time – because light and other visual stimuli will create stress. Their skin is very sensitive so they don’t react well to touching or holding yet. They have trouble breathing and won’t be able to breastfeed. Baby’s ears and hearing structures are formed but not yet developed fully so they will be overly sensitive to sounds.
Although the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is continuing to evolve into a premature baby’s greatest chance for survival, there are still conditions that can be harmful to preemies such as noise levels. A study conducted in 2006 found that 17 of 124 premature babies suffered hearing damage and loss as a result of their stay in the NICU.
NICU Healthcare professionals are becoming more and more aware of this issue and are trying to reduce the level of ambient noise in the units. HUSH Bands are starting to gain traction in NICU’s around the country as an alternative solution to provide hearing protection for preemies. The HUSH Band comes in two sizes and provides the needed auditory protection preemies need while still developing in the critical days and weeks while still in the NICU.