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Lullabies Soothe Preemies, Parents Alike
Date:4/15/2013

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, April 15 (HealthDay News) -- Lullabies have been used to soothe babies since time immemorial. Now, scientists say that premature infants in particular can benefit from combining this tactic with other forms of music therapy, such as simulated womb sounds synchronized to preemies' vital signs.

Studying 272 infants in 11 hospital neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), researchers from Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City found that live music matched to babies' breathing and heart rates enhanced feeding and sleeping patterns. Parent-selected lullabies also seemed to promote bonding between parents and babies, easing the stress of the chaotic NICU environment.

"Historically, premature infants were thought to be best off left alone in a quiet, closed incubator with no stimulation," said study author Joanne Loewy, director of Beth Israel's Louis Armstrong Center for Music & Medicine.

However, she added, "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 . . . the more we can regulate the sound environment, the better they're going to fare."

The study was released online April 15 in advance of publication in the May print issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Loewy and her colleagues examined the effects of three different types of music therapy interventions on premature babies. The infants were born at least 32 weeks into gestation and were small for their gestational age or suffered from conditions including respiratory distress and sepsis.

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 while synchronized with infants' breath and heart pa
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