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J Music Ther. 2009 Fall;46(3):191-203.

The effects of music listening on inconsolable crying in premature infants.

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  • 1Georgia College and State University.


Over the decades, medical staff have developed strategies to manage crying episodes of the critically ill and convalescing premature infant. These episodes of crying occur frequently after infants are removed from ventilation, but before they are able to receive nutrition orally. Not only are these episodes stressful to infants and upsetting to parents, but they are also stressful and time consuming for the staff that take care of these patients. Although the literature supports the benefits of music therapy in regard to physiological and certain behavioral measures with premature infants, no research exists that explores the use of music therapy with inconsolability related to the "nothing by mouth" status. This study explored the effects of music therapy on the crying behaviors of critically ill infants classified as inconsolable. Twenty-four premature infants with gestational age 32-40 weeks received a developmentally appropriate music listening intervention, alternating with days on which no intervention was provided. The results revealed a significant reduction in the frequency and duration of episodes of inconsolable crying as a result of the music intervention, as well as improved physiological measures including heart rate, respiration rate, oxygen saturation, and mean arterial pressure. Findings suggest the viability of using recorded music in the absence of a music therapist or the maternal voice to console infants when standard nursing interventions are not effective.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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