The effect of decibel level of music stimuli and gender on head circumference and physiological responses of premature infants in the NICU

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The purpose of this study was to examine different protocols with regard to the presentation of music stimuli and compare gender differential reactions to those stimuli. Subjects for this study (N = 63) were premature infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) between the gestational ages of 28 and 33 weeks. Half of the experimental infants listened to 20 mins of lullaby music (female voice with orchestral background) on 2 days followed by 20 mins of classical music (Mozart string music) on 2 days. The other half listened to the same music in the reverse order. One quarter of the males and one quarter of the females listened to music presented at an average of 65 dB, one quarter at an average of 70 dB, one quarter at an average of 75 dB, and one quarter did not listen to any music and served as control subjects. Head circumference data were collected four times by the researcher: (a) upon receipt of parental consent, (b) on the first day of music presentation (1 week after consent), (c) on the last day of music presentation, and (d) 1 week after music presentation. Physiological data (heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation) were recorded by the researcher at 2-minute intervals starting 4 minutes prior to and ending 4 minutes after music presentation. There was a significant difference (p < .0001) in average daily head growth across time, but this seems unrelated to the music condition as the same curvilinear trend (larger gain during days of treatment, smaller gain during baseline before and after treatment) was noted for control infants who did not listen to music. Results indicate a significant (p = .002), but biologically unimportant, decrease in heart rate over the course of data collection. No differences due to gender were noted.

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Journal of music therapy

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