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Babies Research

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The following information is in reference to Chapter 9, page 97 of The Power Of Sound.

Music in the Care of the Newborn

“Music and Birthing.” Researchers determined in this study that if music was used as part of the woman’s preparation for birth, music therapy was beneficial also during labor. Music, along with a positive mental attitude, helped the woman relax, so she required less medication. This in turn led to a better outcome for the baby, because there was no respiratory depression caused by transplacental transfer of drugs.

During normal deliveries and cesarean sections (under epidural anesthesia) music has a role to play as a distraction, altering pain perception, decreasing anxiety, and being part of the celebration of birth.  (JL can’t find study…)

“Effects of the pacifier activated lullaby on weight gain of premature infants.” “Within the past 5 years there has been an increase of premature infants surviving in the neonatal intensive care unit as well as an increasing cost for each day the infant is kept there. It is important for the premature infant to acquire the feeding skills necessary for weight gain, which lead to discharge from the hospital, and recent advancements have indicated the effectiveness in using contingent music to teach sucking skills to premature infants.”

The purpose of the first analysis in this 2005 study was to determine the effects of Pacifier Activated Lullaby (PAL) trials on weight gain of premature infants. During a 2-year time period, 62 infants from a sample of 188 met criteria for analysis. In a second analysis, weight gained prior to use of PAL, during use of PAL, and post use of PAL was analyzed and definite trends of greater weight gain with PAL use was shown.

Infants who participated in PAL trials 30 minutes prior to feeding scored the highest average at 77.25 %, followed by 71% for infants who participated in PAL trials during feeding. Other times, primarily after the infants’ feeding, resulted in averages of 59% and 54.5%; these infants often fell asleep after their feeding and did not complete the full 15-minute trial. Based on this research and previous research on NNS, it seems beneficial for premature infants to participate in PAL opportunities 30 minutes prior to feeding.12

“Live Music is Beneficial to Preterm Infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care.” Music stimulation has been shown in this 2006 study to provide significant benefits to pre-term infants. The authors hypothesized that live music therapy was more beneficial than recorded music and might improve physiological and behavioral parameters of stable preterm infants in the neonatal intensive care unit. Compared with recorded music or no music therapy, live music therapy is associated with a reduced heart rate and a deeper sleep at 30 minutes after therapy is stable preterm infants. Of significance, both recorded and no music therapies were found to have no significant effect on the tested physiological and behavioral parameters. 9

“Music Therapy in the Care of the Premature Newborn.” Neonates, like adults in critical-care settings, react adversely to the stressful environment of modern intensive-care units. This is reflected in heart rate variations, decreased oxygen saturation levels, wide fluctuations in blood pressure, and increased levels of agitation. Additional negative reactions may include increased myocardial oxygen consumption, cardiac arrhythmias, and reduction in peripheral and renal perfusion.

High levels of ambient light, along with loud noises and sleep interruption, are now being recognized as potential stressors of the preterm infant. Exposure to noise levels above 80 dB has been identified as one cause of hearing loss in young children. Sound levels in a neonatal ICU have been measured as averaging between 70 and 80 dB, with effects intensified rather than diminished by the incubator.

Researchers studied the effects of taped intrauterine sounds on seventeen agitated, intubated premature infants. The sounds were combined with synthesized vocal singing. The studies concluded that oxygen saturation and behavioral state improved significantly during the playing of the taped sounds.

What types of music should be played for the preterm infant? Care must be taken with the neonate to ensure that any music therapy given is indeed therapeutic and not just for the comfort of the ICU staff. Music is made up of several components including rhythm, tone, pitch, dynamics, melody, and harmony. High pitch creates tension; low pitch promotes relaxation. Rhythms of more than ninety beats per minute can also cause tension, while a slower rhythm can cause suspense or fear. A tempo of sixty beats per minute can be soothing. Dynamically, the measured intrauterine noise level is said to be 80 to 95 dB. To achieve the desired decibel level with the neonate, researchers suggest music be played at a volume of 80 dB, at a distance of three inches from the baby’s ear.

Music in the environment of a developing infant has been shown to improve oxygenation and may also enhance brain development.5410

Compared with recorded music or no music therapy, live music therapy is associated with a reduced heart rate and a deeper sleep at 30 minutes after therapy is stable preterm infants. Both recorded and no music therapies had no significant effect on the tested physiological and behavioral parameters.11

“The Impact of Music on Newborn Colic and Circumcision Pain.” Parents were instructed to follow three courses of action with colicky babies. The first was to continue whatever they usually did to try to soothe the babies. In the second, mothers chose a selection of music and played it for half an hour, regardless of whether the babies were crying or calm. In the third, mothers put on the music half a minute after the babies stopped crying and gave them plenty of loving attention; if the crying started again, they switched off the music, attended to the baby’s needs, and gave them no other attention until the crying stopped.

The first and second courses of action had no effect, but after six to seven weeks the third had reduced excessive crying by about 75 percent. Neither tapes of intrauterine sounds nor music could offset the effects of circumcision pain.13


[1] Amon, S., Shapsa, A., Forman, L., Regev, R., Bauer, S., Litmanovitz, I. et al. (Jun, 2006). Live Music is Beneficial to Preterm Infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Environment. Birth, 33(2), 131-136.

[2] Jl find this sucker!

[3] Julie Anderson Schorr, “Music and Pattern Change in Chronic Pain,” Advances in Nursing Sciences 15, no. 4 (June 1993): 27–36.

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