Music therapy as part of integrative neonatology: 20 years of experience - 3 case reports and a review

Forsch Komplementmed. 2011;18(1):31-5. doi: 10.1159/000323714. Epub 2011 Jan 22.


Background: Numerous varieties of interventions have decreased the mortality and morbidity of preterms. Due to the fact that more infants survive, developmental care has become a crucial topic. In this context, music therapy offers some interesting aspects for parents and children. Starting as an emotional approach, music therapy has developed towards a systematic therapeutic option in neonatal care.

Objectives: To assess the relevance of music therapy for neonates.

Methods: We present 3 typical case reports and give an overview of the current literature regarding music therapy in neonatology.

Case reports: Case 1: Focus on the child, especially the respiratory system. Case 2: Focus on care and assistance for the mother. Case 3: Focus on mother-father-child interaction.

Discussion: These cases show the varieties of indications and possible effects of music therapy. We discuss our own experience ranging over 20 years and give a review on the literature concerning the different aspects of music therapy in neonates.

Conclusion: Probably without any severe adverse effects, music therapy has positive effects on basic vital signs, the reduction of pain and on neurological development. Furthermore, it grants the parents' wish to participate in the well-being of their child. Nevertheless, the need for a specific setting, its methods, and its positive as well as possible negative effects are still open issues and need scientific evaluation.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Music Therapy*
  • Neonatology / methods*
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Premature Birth / therapy*