Scientific article
Open access

Maternal singing but not speech enhances vagal activity in preterm infants during hospitalization: preliminary results

Published inChildren, vol. 9, no. 2, 140
Publication date2022-01-21
First online date2022-01-21

Background: Early parental interventions in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) have beneficial effects on preterm infants’ short and long-term outcomes. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of Early Vocal Contact (EVC)—singing and speaking—on preterm infants’ vagal activity and autonomic nervous system (ANS) maturation. Methods: In this multi-center randomized clinical trial, twenty-four stable preterm infants, born at 25–32 weeks gestational age, were randomized to either the EVC group or control group, where mothers did not interact with the babies but observed their behavior. Heart Rate Variability (HRV) was acquired before intervention (pre-condition), during vocal contact, and after it (post condition). Results: No significant effect of the vocal contact, singing and speaking, was found in HRV when the intervention group was compared to the control group. However, a significant difference between the singing and the pre and post conditions, respectively, preceding and following the singing intervention, was found in the Low and High Frequency power nu, and in the low/high frequency features (p = 0.037). By contrast, no significant effect of the speaking was found. Conclusions: Maternal singing, but not speaking, enhances preterm infants’ vagal activity in the short-term, thus improving the ANS stability. Future analyses will investigate the effect of enhanced vagal activity on short and long-term developmental outcomes of preterm infants in the NICU.

Citation (ISO format)
FILIPPA, Manuela et al. Maternal singing but not speech enhances vagal activity in preterm infants during hospitalization: preliminary results. In: Children, 2022, vol. 9, n° 2, p. 140. doi: 10.3390/children9020140
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal2227-9067

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