Scientific article
Open access

Maternal singing sustains preterm hospitalized newborns’ autonomic nervous system maturation: an RCT

Published inPediatric research
Publication date2023-12-06
First online date2023-12-06


Premature birth is known to affect the newborn’s autonomic nervous system (ANS) maturation, with potential short and long-term impact on their neurobehavioral development. The purpose of the study was to investigate the effects of maternal directed singing and speaking on the preterm infants’ autonomic nervous system (ANS) maturation as measured by the heart rate variability (HRV) parameters.


In this multi-center randomized clinical trial, 30 stable preterm infants (m = 29,6 weeks of gestational age), without any abnormalities were randomized into an intervention (16) or a control group (14). HRV was measured weekly, for a total of 80 recordings during hospitalization, as well as before and after each session of singing or speaking.


The intervention group showed a significant increase of the percentage value of HRV power in the high frequency range when compared to the control group ( p = 0.044). More specifically, the maternal singing significantly increased the high frequency power and decreased the low/high frequency power ratio ( p = 0.037).


The preterm infant’s vagal activity significantly increased in the intervention group, potentially enhancing their ANS maturation. The effect is specifically evidenced in the singing condition.


Maternal singing affects the autonomic nervous system maturation of preterm hospitalized newborns in the NICU.

No previous studies investigated how early vocal parental intervention can affect preterm infants developement, throught their autonomic nervous system maturation.

Early Vocal Contact as an early intervention involving parents has a positive impact on preterm infant’s development and it can be easily implemented in the care of preterm infants.

Citation (ISO format)
FILIPPA, Manuela et al. Maternal singing sustains preterm hospitalized newborns’ autonomic nervous system maturation: an RCT. In: Pediatric research, 2023. doi: 10.1038/s41390-023-02932-4
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0031-3998

Technical informations

Creation12/06/2023 9:56:11 AM
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