The sound of a mother’s voice may significantly improve the health of premature babies, a new study finds.
Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital have found exposure to an audio recording of a mom's heartbeat and her voice lowered the incidence of heart and lung problems in premature babies.
The study, published online in The Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine, was based on an analysis of the health conditions of 14 infants born at 26 to 32 weeks gestation.
Because they are underdeveloped, preterm infants born that early typically experience high rates of lung and heart problems.
To conduct the study, researchers exposed infants to the sounds of their own mother’s heartbeat and voice four times per day during hospitalization. The recording was played into the infant's incubator. Those infants were then compared to others exposed to the routine hospital ambient sounds.
Overall, researchers found that cardiorespiratory events occurred at a much lower frequency when the infants were exposed to the audio recordings than in those who were not.
"Our findings show that there may be a window of opportunity to improve the physiological health of these babies born prematurely using non-pharmalogical treatments, such as auditory stimulation," said lead researcher Amir Lahav, director of the hospital’s Neonatal Research Lab.