Background: Music therapy has been recommended as an adjuvant therapy for both preterm infants and mothers during their stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and has been shown to have beneficial effects.
Objectives: To study the usefulness of combining live harp music therapy and kangaroo care (KC) on short-term physiological and behavioral parameters of preterm infants and their mothers in the NICU setting.
Methods: Included in this study were stable infants born between 32 and 37 weeks of gestation, with normal hearing. Mother-infant dyads were randomly assigned to KC and live harp music therapy or to KC alone. Using repeated measures, neonatal and maternal heart rate, oxygen saturation and respiratory rate were recorded along with neonatal behavioral state and maternal anxiety state. Maternal age, ethnicity, education, and love of music were documented.
Results: Fifty-two mother-infant dyads were tested. Compared with KC alone, KC and live harp music therapy had a significantly beneficial effect on maternal anxiety score (46.8 +/- 10 vs. 27.7 +/- 7.1, respectively, P < 0.01). Infants' physiological responses and behavior did not differ significantly. No correlation was found between mothers' age, ethnicity, years of education and affinity for music, and anxiety scores (P = 0.2 to 0.5 for all four variables).
Conclusions: KC combined with live harp music therapy is more beneficial in reducing maternal anxiety than KC alone. This combined therapy had no apparent effect on the tested infants' physiological responses or behavioral state.