NEW YORK — A new study suggests that playing a Mozart lullaby can alleviate pain in newborns undergoing blood tests. Researchers conducted the study in New York, where they assessed the pain levels of 100 newborns during a routine heel prick blood test, commonly performed to screen for conditions such as jaundice.
In the study, half of the infants listened to an instrumental Mozart lullaby for 20 minutes prior to and during the heel prick, as well as for an additional five minutes afterward. The remaining infants were not exposed to any music.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, regarded as one of history’s greatest composers, penned more than 800 works before his untimely death at 35 in 1791.
The average age of the newborns was two days, and they were born at an average gestational age of 39 weeks. Slightly more than half of the babies were boys. All infants received a standard care protocol, which included administering 0.5 milliliters of sugar solution two minutes before the blood test.
A researcher wearing noise-canceling headphones evaluated the pain levels of the infants before, during, and after the procedure. The assessment criteria included facial expressions, crying intensity, breathing patterns, limb movements, and levels of alertness. To account for potential variables, the tests were consistently carried out in a quiet, dimly lit room at a controlled ambient temperature, without offering pacifiers or physical comfort to the babies.
Both groups exhibited similar average pain scores of zero (out of a possible 7) before undergoing the heel prick. However, the infants who listened to the Mozart lullaby had “significantly lower” pain scores during and immediately after the procedure compared to those who did not listen to music.
In a media release, Dr. Saminathan Anbalagan, the study’s corresponding author, explains that the pain scores for the babies exposed to the lullaby were four during the heel prick and decreased to zero at one and two minutes after the procedure. In contrast, the scores for those not exposed to music were seven, 5.5, and two at the same time intervals.
No significant differences in pain scores were observed between the two groups three minutes after the procedure. The findings suggest that recorded music may be an effective method of pain relief for newborn infants undergoing minor procedures.
The team mentioned that future research could explore whether recordings of parental voices might similarly reduce pain in newborns during minor procedures.
The study is published in the journal Pediatric Research.
South West News Service writer Stephen Beech contributed to this report.