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Mother’s voice increases stability in premature babies

Hearing their mother's voice appears to benefit the health of premature babies, a study has suggested.

Hearing their mother's voice appears to benefit the health of premature babies, a study has suggested

Researchers at the University of Modena in Italy found that babies who heard maternal voices live or recorded were more physiologically and behaviourally stable.

The systematic review of 15 studies, which included more than 500 babies, looked at those where the mothers speaking or singing was combined with a heartbeat sound.

Short-term effects

It suggested significant short-term effects including fewer critical cardio respiratory events, such as bradycardia (slow heartbeat) and apneas (suspension of breathing).

The sooner cardiorespiratory stability is reached, the earlier the baby can tolerate entereal feeding and gain weight, the study says.

Evidence suggests that maternal

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Hearing their mother's voice appears to benefit the health of premature babies, a study has suggested


A study carried out by a university in Italy has found that hearing maternal voices can have
huge short-term benefits for premature babies. Picture: iStock

Researchers at the University of Modena in Italy found that babies who heard maternal voices live or recorded were more physiologically and behaviourally stable.

The systematic review of 15 studies, which included more than 500 babies, looked at those where the mother’s speaking or singing was combined with a heartbeat sound.

Short-term effects

It suggested significant short-term effects including fewer critical cardio respiratory events, such as bradycardia (slow heartbeat) and apneas (suspension of breathing).

The sooner cardiorespiratory stability is reached, the earlier the baby can tolerate entereal feeding and gain weight, the study says.

Evidence suggests that maternal vocal intervention may be particularly effective for babies born at under 32 weeks gestation.

Crucial enhancement

There was insufficient evidence to see if there are long-term benefits, but enhancing bonding between parents and premature babies in the first moments of life is a crucial aim for improving care, the study said.

Lead researcher Manuela Filippa said: ‘This is an appeal to caring teams for supporting vocal contact between parents and preterm infants, as well as an invitation to investigate its long-term effects on preterm infants’ development.’


Filippa M et al (2017). Systematic review of maternal voice interventions demonstrate increased stability in preterm infants. Acta Paediatrica. Doi: 10.111/apa.13832

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