(HealthDay News) – For premature infants, exposure to live music and parent-preferred lullabies can influence physiologic and developmental function, according to a study published online April 15 in Pediatrics.

Joanne Loewy, DA, from the Louis Armstrong Center for Music & Medicine in New York City, and colleagues conducted a randomized clinical multisite trial involving 272 premature infants, aged ≥32 weeks with respiratory distress syndrome, clinical sepsis, and/or small for gestational age in 11 neonatal intensive care units who were exposed to live music interventions. Within a two-week period, the infants received three interventions per week (parent-preferred lullaby, live application of the ocean disc, and entrained live heartbeat sounds using a gato box). Physiologic and developmental domain data were collected on a daily basis and before, during, and after the intervention or no intervention.

The researchers observed changes in heart rate which were interactive with time in the three live music interventions. During the lullaby and rhythm intervention, heart rates were significantly lower. There was a significant difference in sucking behavior with rhythm sound interventions. After the entrained breath sounds intervention, heart rates were rendered lower and there were differences in sleep patterns. Parent-preferred lullabies correlated with higher caloric intake and sucking behavior. Parental stress perception was decreased with music.

“The applied use of live music and singing in a music therapy context can encourage bonding and ensure that their premature infant’s development occurs in a family-centered orientation particular to their culture and attuned influence,” the authors write.

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