NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Cycled lighting in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) reduces fussing and crying in very preterm infants, researchers from Switzerland report in the June 11th online Pediatrics.

Previous studies have shown the benefits of cycled lighting on postnatal growth, infant day-night activity, and sleep behavior, leading the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to recommend neonatal care under cycled lighting conditions.

Dr. Oskar G. Jenni from University Children’s Hospital Zurich, Switzerland and colleagues investigated whether very preterm infants under cycled lighting conditions show less daytime crying and fussing behavior, more motor activity during the day and less during the night, and greater weight gain during the neonatal period compared with infants under irregular dim lighting.

The 17 infants in the cycled lighting group showed 59.4 minutes less fussing and 31.2 minutes less crying per 24 hours than did the 20 infants in the dim lighting group, though sleep variables did not differ between the 2 groups.

The differences in fussing were significant at 5 weeks’ postterm corrected age but disappeared by 11 weeks’ postterm corrected age.

Infants nursed in cycled lighting were more active during the 24-hour period, with a tendency toward more activity during the daytime .

There was a trend toward increased weight gain among cycled lighting-exposed infants, who gained an average of 3.6 g/d more than infants exposed to dim lighting.

“The findings of this study indicate that cycled lighting conditions in neonatal care have beneficial effects on infant’s fussing and crying behavior, as well as growth, in the first weeks of life,” the researchers conclude. “Thus, the study supports the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation for introducing cycled lighting care in clinical neonatal practice.”


Cycled Light Exposure Reduces Fussing and Crying in Very Preterm Infants

Pediatrics 11 June 2012