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Music Medicine

Title:  “Maternal Attitudes Toward Musical Preferences for their Newborns”

Eliasar A. Simon, M.D.

Department of Pediatrics, UMDNJ/New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ.

BACKGROUND:  Music, especially lullabies was relegated to the past.  Today’s mother no longer know this folk song tradition for their babies.  Instead, mothers rely on what is imposed on to them by the media.

OBJECTIVE:  To evaluate the influence of background music on a music survey of postpartum women for their newborns.

DESIGN/METHODS:  130 postpartum women whose infants were receiving care in the Intermediate Care Nursery were randomized to a music (M) condition or a no music (NM) condition (control).  50 women in the M condition heard classical piano music while being interviewed about music for their infants, whether they would like music playing in the nursery, what type of music they would prefer for their infants, and whether music would benefit their infants in one way or another.  80 women in the NM condition were asked the same questions.

RESULTS:  50 (100%) of the M condition mothers like the idea of music playing in the nursery, as compared to 74 (92.5%) of NM condition mothers.  With regard to the musical preferences of mothers for their infants, 29 (58%) of the M condition mothers preferred similar classical music played in the nursery, while 18 (36%) of the M condition mothers would like lullaby songs played in the nursery.  Only 3 (6%) preferred other music genres.  On the contrary, in the NM condition, 31 (38.75%) of the mothers suggested lullaby songs, while 49 (61.25%) preferred other music genres--22 (27.5%) Rhythm and Blues (R&B), 10 (12.5%) Jazz, 8 (10%) classical, 3 (3.75%) romantic, 3 (3.75%) Hymn, and 3 (3.75%) other musical styles (p-value <0.0001).  In addition, all mothers in the M condition believe that music would help comfort their babies; whereas in the NM condition, 74 (92.5%) of mothers reported that music would help soothe their babies, while 6 (7.5%) do not believe music would help their babies at all.

CONCLUSIONS:  The playing of a certain type of music stimuli in the background in a music survey tends to influence the responses of mothers in answering a questionnaire about their musical preferences for their newborns.

Publication/Citation:  Simon, Eliasar, Maternal Attitudes Toward Musical Preferences for their Newborns, Pediatric Research, Vol. 51, No. 4, pg. 29A, 167, April 2002.

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