How The Sound Of A Mother’s Voice Can Help Preterm Babies

A new study has revealed that a mother’s voice may play a crucial role in the health of premature babies.

The Sound Of A Mother’s Voice Could Play A Crucial Role In The Development Of Premature Babies
Source: Istock.

How The Maternal Voice Helps Preterm Babies

French scientists from University of Paris Ouest Nanterre examined 512 preterm infants, who were born between 2000 and 2015, to see whether the sound of their mother’s voice – whether it was recorded or live – helped with the baby’s recovery and short term development.

According to the review, which was published in journal Acta Paediatrica, maternal voice does appear to play a significant role in helping to stabilise the infant.

The study’s lead author Dr Manuela Filippa suggests the findings supports the beneficial effects of maternal vocal interventions, particularly in infants born before 32 weeks.

“Preterm infants’ state becomes more stable when mothers talk and sing to them, with potential clinical benefits on autonomous nervous system maturation,” says Dr. Filippa.

However, this study does not evaluate the long-term impact of the mother’s voice on the babies.

Newborn Premature in Incubator
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Another Study

In a similar study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the sound of a mother’s voice was found to be linked to the baby’s brain development.

Ultrasounds were taken of 40 preterm infants who were born between 25 and 32 weeks of gestation. The first ultrasound of the brain was taken at birth and then a follow-up when the babies were one month old.

Infants who had been exposed to sound recordings of their mum’s voice while in the incubator were shown to have more well-developed auditory cortices (the part of the temporal lobe that processes auditory information) than those babies who had not been exposed to a sound recording.

premature baby
Source: iStock

“Brain development is largely shaped by early sensory experience,” wrote the study’s authors.

“However, it is currently unknown whether, how early, and to what extent the newborn’s brain is shaped by exposure to maternal sounds when the brain is most sensitive to early life programming.”

“Results show that newborns exposed to maternal sounds had a significantly larger auditory cortex (AC) bilaterally compared with control newborns receiving standard care.

“The magnitude of the right and left AC thickness was significantly correlated with gestational age but not with the duration of sound exposure.”

Eight Per Cent Of Babies Are Born Premature In Australia

premature baby

In Australia, around eight per cent of babies are born prematurely (before 37 weeks), claims Better Health Victoria.

However, in rare instances, some infants are simply too eager to enter the world. With today’s amazing technology and constant care from NICU staff, babies born at just 23 weeks’ gestation have survived.

Have a look at our inspiring premature infant stories to see just how amazing technology is in helping these teeny treasures thrive outside the womb.