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AROUND THE MEDICAL CENTER :: WINTER 2014
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Motherís voice improves hospitalization and feeding in preemies


By Ashley Culver
August 2013

Premature babies who receive an interventional therapy combining mother’s voice and a pacifier-activated music player learn to eat more efficiently and have their feeding tubes removed sooner than other preemies, according to a Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt study.

The randomized clinical trial performed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Children’s Hospital tested 94 premature babies, pairing mother’s voice singing a lullaby with a pacifier-activated music player with sensors and speakers.

The babies in the study were between 34-36 weeks gestation, in stable condition, and able to breathe on their own. The participating babies received the intervention for 15 minutes a day for five days. When they sucked correctly on their pacifier, they were rewarded by hearing their mother singing a lullaby. If they stopped sucking, the music stopped.

“A mother’s voice is a powerful auditory cue,” said study author Nathalie Maitre, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of Pediatrics. “Babies know and love their mother’s voice. It has proven to be the perfect incentive to help motivate these babies.”

Music therapist Olena Chorna, MM, MT-BC, NICU-MT, worked closely with the mothers, making them comfortable and teaching them the two study-approved lullabies, “Hush Little Baby” and “Snuggle Puppy,” which are simple, repetitive and within one octave range. The songs were then recorded and connected to the pacifier-activated music player.

“The mothers were enthusiastic to join the study,” Chorna said.

Full results are not published yet, but Maitre and Chorna have analyzed the data with the help of James C. Slaughter, Dr.P.H., assistant professor of Biostatistics. The study shows babies who receive the pacifier intervention were able to have their feeding tubes removed about a week earlier compared to babies who did not receive the intervention. The results also show evidence babies ate more frequently and developed a stronger sucking ability and did not show signs of stress during their pacifier sessions. 

 


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Lullabies help preemies go home faster

Researchers at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital are finding evidence that a mother's song may have the power to help preemies feed better and go home faster.

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