Reading to Newborns in Intensive Care a Boon for Parents

It helped parents feel closer, more in control during difficult time, study finds

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FRIDAY, Dec. 17, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- Parents who read to their newborns in the intensive care unit feel closer to their babies during this difficult time, a new study finds.

The first few days of a newborn's life are an important time of parent bonding with their children. But critically ill babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) are often separated from their parents.

"The objective of this study, which involved 120 families, was to determine whether reading helped strengthen the bond between parents and their babies, and whether this motivated parents to continue reading at home," principal investigator Jan Lariviere, a nurse in the neonatal clinic and the neonatal intensive care unit at the Montreal Children's Hospital, McGill University Health Center, said in a McGill news release.

Nearly 70 percent of the parents in the study said reading made them feel closer to their babies. Most of them said reading led to feelings of intimacy and normalcy and helped them feel they had more control of the situation.

The study also found that parents who read to their babies in the NICU were three times more likely to continue doing so at home.

The study appears in the current issue of the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

"As health professionals, we must give parents the tools they need to cope with the situation. Reading should become an essential tool in NICUs and follow-up clinics," Lariviere said.

More information

The Nemours Foundation offers advice for parents when their baby is in the NICU.

McGill University Health Center, news release, Dec. 14, 2010

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