Neonatal incubators are made to protect prematurely born babies from
external foes and to preserve their temperature and this is what they
are good for. However, a new study finds there may be more to it.
Scientists found that the electromagnetic fields produced by the
motors of an incubator may be affecting newborns' heart rates and
their autonomous nervous system.

The researchers looked at the changes of heart rates in 43 newborns
none of whom were premature or critically ill. The results showed that
27 of the infants underwent heart rate variability testing for
5-minute intervals while an incubator motor was on, off and on again.
A decrease in the babies' heart rate variability has been seen when
the incubator was turned on.

The other 16 newborns were not exposed to an incubator motor but to
audio stimuli mimicking the sounds of a motor to see if noise might be
representing a risk. No differences in heart rate variability has been
found. Decreased heart rate variability is a strong predictor of some
cardiac abnormality in adults.

It is yet not clear what these findings mean for the babies' health
but since the laws set levels to safeguard the health of workers being
exposed to electromagnetic fields, newborns should be worthy of
similar or even better protection.

More research will be done to assess the possible long-term
consequences, since prematurely born babies are exposed to these high
electromagnetic fields for months