Parents’ Lullabies Help Premature Babies

Did you sing lullabies to your kids when they were babies?  New research shows that lullabies may actually help infants born prematurely.

HealthDay writer Maureen Salamon reports on a new study done in 11 hospital neonatal intensive care units  or “NICUs.”

Researchers found that live music matched to babies’ breathing and heart rates enhanced their feeding and sleeping patterns. Parent-selected lullabies also seemed to promote bonding between parents and babies, easing the stress of the chaotic NICU environment.

Joanne Loewy, director of the Center for Music & Medicine at Beth Israel Hospital in New York says that doctors used to think that preemies where better off being left alone in a quiet, closed incubator with no stimulation.  But the new research shows that the right kind of stimulation — particularly live, interactive music — can enhance babies’ brain function and increase their quiet-alert state.

Dr. Loewy says “it helps them through those tough moments . . . the more we can regulate the sound environment, the better they’re going to fare.”

Loewy and her colleagues examined the effects of three different types of music therapy interventions on premature babies.

Three times each week for two weeks, certified music therapists used devices called Remo ocean discs and gato boxes, which replicated “whoosh” and heartbeat womb sounds synchronized to the infants’ breathing and heart patterns.

Parents or therapists also sung the lullabies chosen by the babies’ parents.  Compared to infants who didn’t receive any music therapies, those babies showed more positive health effects such as better sleeping and feeding patterns.

In addition the parents’ of the premature infants babies said the lullabies helped them to feel less stressed in the sometimes chaotic NICU environment.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

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