Music Helps Premature Infants with Stress, Weight, and Feeding

From a study by Caine J:

The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of music on selected stress behaviors, weight, caloric and formula intake, and length of hospital stay. Subjects were 52 preterm and low birth weight newborns in a newborn intensive care unit (NBICU) who were in stable condition and restricted to isolettes. Subjects in the experimental and control groups were matched for equivalency based on sex, birth weight, and diagnostic criticality. Eleven males and 15 females were assigned to the control group and received routine auditory stimulation. The experimental group of 11 males and 15 females received music stimulation, which consisted of approximately 60 minutes of tape recorded vocal music, including lullabies and children’s music, and routine auditory stimulation. Thirty-minute segments of the recording were played alternatively with 30 minutes of routine auditory stimulation three times daily. Exposure to music stimulation occurred only during the infants’ stay in the NBICU. Results suggest music stimulation may have significantly reduced initial weight loss, increased daily average weight, increased formula and caloric intake, significantly reduced length of the NBICU and total hospital stays, and significantly reduced the daily group mean of stress behaviors for the experimental group [emphasis added].

One can only wonder, in light of other research, what might happen if Mozart were played to these infants, especially live Mozart music. However, it’s clear that music will help a premature infant to gain weight, feed better, and reduce the stress and length of the hospital stay, saving the parents a significant amount of money on their hospital bills. So if you know someone with a premature infant, perhaps the best gift you can give them is a small tape or CD player and a recording of Mozart. They may not be aware of the benefits, but the research into music and premature birth is clear: it will help!

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