Home | News | A sonata a day keeps the doctor away

A sonata a day keeps the doctor away

New study finds Mozart helps pre-term infants grow.

The music they listen to doesn’t have any lyrics that tell them to grow, but new research from Tel Aviv University finds that premature babies who are exposed to music by 18th-century composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart gain weight faster than those who don’t.

A new study carried out by Dr Dror Mandel and Dr Ronit Lubetzky of the Tel Aviv Medical Centre has found that pre-term infants exposed to 30 minutes of Mozart’s music in one session, once per day expend less energy – and therefore need fewer calories to grow rapidly – than when they are not listening to the music.

“It’s not exactly clear how the music is affecting them, but it makes them calmer and less likely to be agitated,” says Mendel, a lecturer at Tel Aviv University.

In the study, Mandel, Lubetzky and their team measured the physiological effects of music by Mozart played to pre-term newborns for 30 minutes. After the music was played, the researchers measured infants’ energy expenditure again, and compared it to the amount of energy expended when the baby was at rest. After hearing the music, the infant expended less energy, a process that can lead to faster weight gain.

When it comes to preemies, one of the main priorities for nurses and doctors is to get the baby up to an acceptable body weight so he or she can be sent home. At the hospital, preterm babies may be exposed to infections and other illnesses, and a healthy body weight keeps them immune to other problems in the future.

While the scientists are not sure what occasioned the response, Mandel offers one hypothesis.
“The repetitive melodies in Mozart’s music may be affecting the organisational centres of the brain’s cortex,” he says.

“Unlike Beethoven, Bach or Bartok, Mozart’s music is composed with a melody that is highly repetitive. This might be the musical explanation. For the scientific one, more investigation is needed.”

The study came about through an international project led by the US-based consortium NIDCAP, whose goal is to create a set of standard practices to optimise the health and well-being of neonates. A number of environmental effects, such as tactile stimulation and room lighting, are already known to affect the survival and health of these very susceptible babies.

The study is the first to quantify the effect of music, specifically Mozart, on newly born children.
“Medical practitioners are aware that by changing the environment, we can create a whole new treatment paradigm for babies in neonatal care,” says Mandel. “That’s our main goal – to improve their quality of life.

“The point of our research is to quantify these effects so that standards and care-guides can be developed. We still don’t know the long-term effects of the music, or if other kinds of music will work just as well.”

Do you have an idea for a story?
Email [email protected]

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the top stories in our weekly newsletter Sign up now

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *