This is the first of a series of blog posts exploring the evidence for music therapy.
Music therapy in the NICU: does it work?
There is an increasing body of evidence supporting the use of music therapy for babies (and parents) in the NICU environment. Here is a very small selection of the research available. Each publication below is from a peer-reviewed journal.
Music therapy increases bonding and decreases parental anxiety
Loewy, J. (2015). NICU music therapy: Song of kin as critical lullaby in research and practice. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences,13371(1), 178-185.
This video is about the research above:
Cognitive and communication scores were higher when baby attended music therapy sessions post discharge
Hamm, E., Chorna, O., Flanery, A., & Maitre, N. (2017). A parent–infant music therapy intervention to improve neurodevelopment after neonatal intensive care. Acta Paediatrica, 106(10), 1703-1704.
This research is important because newborns who start life in the NICU are at higher risk of issues later on.
Babies were less irritable, cried less, had better self-regulation
Malloch, S., Shoemark, H., Črnčec, R., Newnham, C., Paul, C., Prior, M., . . . Burnham, D. (2012). Music therapy with hospitalized infants—the art and science of communicative musicality. Infant Mental Health Journal, 33(4), 386-399.
Increased oxygen saturation, weight gain, shorter stay, increased tolerance, music therapy promotes bonding etc.
Standley, J. (2002). A meta-analysis of the efficacy of music therapy for premature infants. Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 17(2), 107-113.
As a meta-analysis, this study analyzed the results of many previous studies.
Babies went home an average of 12.9 days earlier
Walworth, Standley, Robertson, Smith, Swedberg, & Peyton. (2012). Effects of neurodevelopmental stimulation on premature infants in neonatal intensive care: Randomized controlled trial. Journal of Neonatal Nursing, 18(6), 210-216.
Music therapy increased breastfeeding rates
Vianna, M., Barbosa, A., Carvalhaes, A., & Cunha, A. (2011). Music therapy may increase breastfeeding rates among mothers of premature newborns: A randomized controlled trial. Jornal De Pediatria, 87(3), 206-12.