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Monday, April 29, 2013

Music as Medicine for Premature babies

"Historically, premature infants were thought to be best off left alone in a quiet, closed incubator with no stimulation," said Joanne Loewy, director of Beth Israel's Louis Armstrong Center for Music & Medicine, in an interview with CBS News. "In more recent times, we're seeing that the right kind of stimulation -- particularly live, interactive music -- can enhance babies' neurological function and increase their quiet-alert state. It helps them through those tough moments...”

A new study published online in Pediatrics on April 15 has shown that lullabies and other music therapies have many benefits for premature infants, giving them a better chance at a healthy life.

Babies usually hear the mother’s heartbeat 26 million times before birth, so in this study a wooden instrument called a “Gato box” was played softly to replicate the sound and rhythm of the mother’s heartbeat. It seemed to help the babies make up for the millions of heartbeats that they were missing by being born so early, for they responded with a lowered and more stabilized heart rate.

Another instrument was the “Remo ocean disc,” imitating the watery sounds of the womb. It helped to lower the respiration rate of the babies who were struggling for normal breath and regulate the blood-oxygen levels.

And singing! The best results for wakefulness and lowering of stress were found when the parents sang quietly to their babies. The song didn’t matter---one mother sang “Eight Days A Week” and it had positive effects just like “Twinkle Twinkle.”
They were all sung as lullabies, and worked the way a lullaby works: to relax, calm, and soothe. The singing helped babies get to that “quiet alert state,” which is the best condition of the nervous system for maximum development.

This new study is just more evidence of the great power of music, starting from the beginning of our human lives. Or in this case, when the beginning was even earlier than it was supposed to be!

Here is a short New York Times video interview about the study :

Wishing everyone of all ages a good and healing night’s sleep.

Sweet Dreams,

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