Live music reduces stress levels in very low-birthweight infants

  • Schwilling D
  • Vogeser M
  • Kirchhoff F
 et al. 
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AIM: Music might benefit preterm infants in stressful, intensive care environments. However, data on stress level indicators, determined by salivary cortisol levels, are scarce. We evaluated the effect of live harp music on the stress level indicators of preterm infants in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

METHODS: We exposed 20 stable preterm infants to music for 15 minutes on three consecutive days. Saliva was collected before the music was played and 25 minutes and four hours after it ended. Salivary cortisol levels were measured by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry and vital signs, oxygen saturation, bradycardia, apneas and oxygen desaturations were recorded. Pain levels were assessed by the Bernese Pain Scale for Neonates.

RESULTS: Salivary cortisol was significantly lower 25 minutes (18.9nmol/L [3.9-35.6] p=0.001) and four hours after music (17.4nmol/L [3.9-35.3] p=0.003) than at baseline four hours before exposure (19.5nmol/L [7.2-51.1]). After music, the number of apneas and oxygen desaturations were significantly reduced on all three days and the number of bradycardia episodes on day one. Pain scores significantly improved after music on all three days.

CONCLUSION: Exposure to live music reduced salivary cortisol and had beneficial effects on the physiologic parameters of stable preterm infants in a NICU. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Harp music
  • Preterm infant
  • Salivary cortisol
  • Stress

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