A neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) provides life-saving care for premature and sick newborns. However, that environment is very stressful due to the noise of equipment, alarms, and constant activity. It is important to decrease the stress for the infant as well as the parents. The purpose of this literature review was to determine if there is benefit from the use of music in the NICU. The high level of stress and anxiety that parents experience during this time may put the parent/child relationship at risk. Overstimulation and ongoing noise in the NICU may delay improvement in health and increase stress. Studies examined if adding music therapy (MT) during daily care reduced infant and parental stress and had an effect on physiological outcomes of the infants and their families. Primary study methods included a control group and an intervention group. The infants in the intervention group were exposed to music of the parents’ choosing. During the therapy, the infant was connected to a pulse oximeter to monitor oxygen level and a monitor to assess heart rate and respiratory rate. The researchers reported significant outcomes. The overall average infant heart rate was reduced, there was in increase in oxygenation, and more stable breathing patterns. Because of these improvements, infants expended less calories and hospital stays were shorter. Parents of the infants also verbalized feeling less stressed and more relaxed. The studies provided evidence that music therapy was beneficial to the newborns and parents in the NICU.
Murdock, Olivia and McClaskey, Barbara, "Music Therapy in Preterm Infants in the NICU" (2019). Posters. 46.