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Music May Lessen Pain for Premature Babies

Exposure to music in neonatal care units may improve feeding habits too

FRIDAY, May 29 (HealthDay News) -- Playing music in neonatal units may help premature babies to feed better and reduce their pain, according to a review published online on May 28 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood: Fetal & Neonatal Edition.

Lisa Hartling, of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and colleagues conducted a review of nine randomized controlled trials, of which six were designed to assess the effect of music on response to pain, three each during circumcision and heel prick tests, while the remaining three studies examined the impact of music on physiological and behavioral parameters.

The overall quality of the research methodology of the studies was poor, but one pilot study of 23 babies undergoing circumcision was of high quality and concluded that heart rate, oxygen saturation, and pain improved when the babies were exposed to music, while three low-quality studies for pain response during heel prick tests found some benefits to exposure to music, the researchers found. Another study found music resulted in significant feeding rate improvements, the authors note.

"There is preliminary evidence to suggest that music may have beneficial effects in terms of physiological parameters, behavioral states and pain reduction during painful medical procedures," Hartling and colleagues conclude. "However, most trials conducted to date are of poor methodological quality. Additional methodologically rigorous, randomized controlled trials are warranted to confirm and to further elucidate the benefits of music for neonates."

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