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Music May Temper Pain in Preemies
Date:5/27/2009

"Calmer infants, a stable condition in the child's physiologic functions such as heart rate and higher oxygen saturation, and lesser pain during the painful procedures such as circumcision and blood sampling via heal prick" were all reported, Kumar said.

"One study noted that the use of a pacifier-activated lullaby system in the preterm infants helped improve their oral feeding rates," he said. "These infants were previously documented to have difficulty in making the transition to oral feeding."

However, Dr. F. Sessions Cole, director of newborn medicine and head of the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Louis Children's Hospital, thinks the jury is still out on whether music in intensive care units works in reducing infant discomfort.

"This article provides a systematic analysis of available information concerning the possible usefulness of music for pain management among sick newborn infants who are undergoing procedures," Cole said, but he noted that "the authors indicate that the methodological problems with all of the reported studies preclude any conclusions about the efficacy of music therapy in the neonatal intensive care unit."

"I know many of us would like this music-based strategy to work to reduce use of pain medications and to improve outcomes of these fragile, high-risk infants," Cole said. "However, based on this article, evaluation of the use of music for pain relief among sick newborn infants is experimental at best and will require more carefully designed, methodologically rigorous strategies before any kind of conclusion about its usefulness can be made."

Dr. Charles R. Bauer, a professor of pediatrics, obstetrics-gynecology and psychology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, noted that research on the benefit of music for infants is sketchy at best.

"The use of music as a soothing intervention for infants is well known," Bauer said. "We know that a neonatal
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