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[The fetus and noise].

[Article in German]

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Universitäts-Klinik für Frauenheilkunde, Innsbruck, Osterreich.


From 23 weeks of gestation some and from 28 weeks all healthy fetuses are capable of reacting to sound stimulation. The intrauterine acoustic environment is dominated by maternal sounds--heartbeat, breathing, the mother's voice, borborygmi and sounds caused by body movements. Background noise is never below 28 dB and can rise to 84 dB when the mother is singing. Noises that are meant to reach the fetus must be louder than the background noise and must be of low frequency as high frequency sounds are damped by maternal tissue. Vibroacoustic stimulation tests (VAST) have become popular in pregnancy surveillance over the last 20 years, mostly using an artificial larynx. Advantages and problems of the various VAST protocols in fetal monitoring are discussed in the light of animal experiments and clinical studies. Health legislation laws in most countries forbid pregnant women to work in surroundings with a high noise level (80 dB continuous noise and/or rapid impulse noise changes of 40 dB). Whereas regulations for pregnant women are easy to enforce in industry, pregnant women employed in discos or performing as musicians spend most of their working day exposed to noise impact higher than the recommended limit.

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