Mood music can help babies cope with pain

Playing music to babies in hospital can ease their pain and help with feeding, according to research published today.

An analysis of nine clinical trials found that music had a beneficial effect on lessening pain when premature babies were subject to procedures such as heel prick blood tests. Babies born at full-term also appeared to experience less pain when they underwent operations such as circumcision. Some of the studies showed music could help premature babies who struggled with feeding. However, the authors called for more rigorous studies before recommendations are made on the use of music to help babies develop.

The research, published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, was carried out by experts at the University of Alberta in Canada. The music played included live music, classical, female vocalists, recorded lullabies and recorded nursery rhymes.

They reviewed trials published between 1989 and 2006. Many of the studies found that music helped babies, shown through measurements of heart rate, oxygen saturation and pain levels.