Lullabies Have A Soothing Effect On Premature Babies
April 15, 2013

Lullabies Have A Soothing Effect On Premature Babies

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

Researchers from Beth Israel Medical Center (BIMC) in New York City led a study published in the journal Pediatrics that found premature babies find lullabies soothing.

The new study, which involved 11 hospitals, found that premature babies can benefit from live music, whether played or sung. The researchers found that live music helped to slow the infants' heartbeats, calm their breathing, improve sucking behaviors, aid sleep and promote states of quiet alertness.

The team included 272 premature infants in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) in the study. They reported that infants in the study faced issues such as breathing problems, bacterial bloodstream infections, or being small for their age. The infants received three interventions each week for a two week period. During these interventions, physiologic and developmental data was collected during, before and after.

"We were eager to test the influence of the applied womb, heart, and breath sounds entrained live to the infant´s vital signs and lullabies specifically identified by parents as important to their cultural heritage," the authors wrote. They used the lullaby "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" as the default song when a parent did not specify what they wanted their child to hear.

The researchers said that instead of using high or low voices, they used a range that was 'familiar" or "recognized," where the mother or father is the source. The music therapists provided a survey for the parent, and also took note of the vocal range and recorded them singing a lullaby.

"From a decade of pilot trails that used live music and sound interventions, we hypothesized that the Remo ocean disc and the gato box, when played live and carefully entrained to the infant´s breath rate, would enhance vital signs and that the effects of these sounds would evoke an environment of strength and stability for premature infants who were (greater than) 32 weeks at study entry," the authors wrote

They concluded that certified music therapists can use live sound and parent-preferred lullabies to help influence cardiac and respiratory function.

"Parent-preferred lullabies, sung live, can enhance bonding, thus decreasing the stress parents associate with premature infant care," the team wrote in the journal.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing in 2008 found that music therapy can help reduce psychological stress among pregnant women. The team found that music helped pregnant women reduce stress, anxiety and depression after just two weeks, compared to a control group of pregnant women who did not utilize music therapy.