Playing newborn babies a Mozart lullaby relieved their pain during a blood test, suggests a new study.
American researchers measured the pain levels of 100 newborns undergoing a heel prick blood test in New York as part of routine screening for conditions such as jaundice.
Half the babies listened to an instrumental Mozart lullaby for 20 minutes before and during the heel prick and for five minutes afterward, while the other half did not listen to any music.
Regarded as one of the greatest composers in history, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed more than 800 works before his death at the age of 35 in 1791.
The babies were, on average, two days old and born at 39 weeks, while just over half were boys.
As part of standard care, all the babies were given 0.5 milliliters of sugar solution two minutes before the heel prick was performed.
A researcher wearing noise-canceling headphones assessed the babies’ pain levels before, during, and after the heel prick.
Pain levels were determined according to the babies’ facial expressions, degree of crying, breathing patterns, limb movements, and levels of alertness.
The researchers accounted for the potential influence of other sensory inputs on pain levels by consistently performing the procedure in a quiet, dimly lit room at an ambient temperature and by not providing the babies with pacifiers or physical comfort.
The team observed similar pain levels in both groups of babies before the heel prick, with both groups having average pain scores of zero, out of a maximum possible score of seven.
But the pain score of babies who listened to the lullaby was “significantly lower” during and immediately after the heel prick, compared to those who did not listen to music.
Study corresponding author Dr. Saminathan Anbalagan said the pain scores of the babies that listened to the lullaby were four during the heel prick, zero at one minute after the procedure, and zero at two minutes after the heel prick.
The pain scores of those who didn’t listen to the lullaby were seven, 5.5 and two at the same time points.
The researchers did not observe significant differences in the pain scores of babies in both groups three minutes after the procedure, according to the findings published in the journal Paediatric Research.
Dr. Anbalagan, of the Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center, said: “The findings suggest that recorded music may be an effective method of pain relief in newborn infants undergoing minor procedures.”
He added that future research could investigate whether recordings of parental voices can also reduce pain in newborns during minor procedures.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker