A study at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of University Hospital, Brescia, Italy, showed that music reduces pain even in newborns. Eighty newborns between the ages of one and three days were subjected to painful medical procedures—the Guthrie Test (where the heel is pricked to draw blood) and/or antibiotic injections in the muscle. Infants were randomly assigned to have the procedure done in silence, while music (Mozart’s “Sonata for Two Pianos” or Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”) was playing, or while exposed to the sound of a heartbeat. The music began 10 minutes prior to the procedure and continued for 20 minutes after.
Researchers monitored the infants’ heart rate, oxygen saturation level, breathing patterns, crying and whimpering, as well as whether their muscles were rigid or relaxed. Within 10 minutes after the procedure, those infants with musical intervention showed a significant decrease in heart rate, improvement in oxygen saturation, and reduction in the perception of pain. The researchers conclude that music could be an easy-to-use, low-cost method of enriching the environment for babies.