Music has long been known for its ability to evoke emotions and create a sense of calm. From lullabies to symphonies, the power of music is independent of age and culture. And now a groundbreaking study has shown that music, particularly Mozart’s soothing melodies, can ease pain in newborns.
The study, conducted by a team from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, is the first of its kind. It involved 100 infants about 2 days old at a community hospital in the Bronx, New York. Each baby was born at full term.The study was published in the journal Nature
In the study, just over half of the infants listened to a soothing instrumental Mozart lullaby for twenty minutes before the standard heel pricking procedure. The other half waited in silence. Two minutes before the procedure, all infants were given sucrose to slightly reduce pain.
During the heel injection and for about five minutes afterward, the Mozart lullaby continued to be played. Parents were not allowed to physically hold the infants during the procedure. The researcher monitored the infants’ pain sensations using various indicators such as facial expression, crying, breathing, limb movements, and alertness.
The results were striking. Newborns exposed to Mozart showed a significant decrease in pain sensation on the Neonatal Infant Pain Scale (NIPS). This reduction was observed before, during, and after the heel pricking procedure. The study authors concluded that musical exposure is a simple, reproducible, and inexpensive tool for pain relief in healthy newborns.
This study adds to the growing body of evidence supporting the use of music as a pain management tool. Moreover, there are already numerous studies demonstrating the effectiveness of music in reducing pain perception in adults. However, the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon are not fully understood.
Although distractions may play a role in the pain-relieving effects of music, previous studies have shown that lively and pleasant music relieves pain more effectively than gloomy or sad music. This suggests that there may be something in the tempo, harmony, or melody of a song that brings relief to the human brain, even in people who are unfamiliar with music.
The results of this study are especially important because pain medications often cannot be used for newborns. Using music as a non-invasive and safe alternative could revolutionize pain management in this vulnerable population.
It should be noted that this study builds on a previous study conducted in 2017, which found that combining oral sucrose administration with music therapy provided greater pain relief in premature newborns in the heel-puncture test. However, premature neonates may have altered pain perception and physical response to pain due to their exposure to pain in the NICU.
In conclusion, the ability of music to alleviate pain in newborns is a surprising finding. Soothing Mozart melodies were found to have a significant effect on reducing pain in full-term newborns. Further research is needed to uncover the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon and to explore the potential benefits of music therapy in other medical procedures.