Listening to Mozart can help premature babies gain weightJan 12th, 2010 | By John Waller | Category: Health, Music
Playing Mozart to premature babies can help them gain weight, according to The Daily Telegraph. The newspaper said that new research has shown that babies hearing the music used less energy, which might help them gain weight faster.
The study behind this news looked at 20 healthy premature babies and found that exposure to 30 minutes of music composed by Mozart reduced the babies’ resting energy expenditure. However, weight gain itself was not measured, and the researchers themselves are cautious about linking their findings to the weight gain seen in other studies on music. They say that “the clinical implications of our findings belong to the field of speculation”, and that more research is required. This is a sensible bottom line for this early research, and more work needs to be done before Mozart or musical therapy has a place in the routine care of premature babies.
Where did the story come from?
This study was carried out by Dr Ronit Lubetzky, Dror Mandel and colleagues from the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Centre, Tel Aviv University, the Shaare Zedek Medical Center and the Hebrew University. There is no indication of whether or not this study received external funding. The authors declare that they have no financial relationships relevant to this article. It was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Pediatrics.
Both The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail cover this research in a balanced way, explaining that the study compared the amount of energy babies used while listening to Mozart to the amount of energy they used when they were at rest. However, the newspaper headlines may lead a reader to think that the study assessed the effects of music on weight gain in babies, but this is not the case. The study assessed the effect of music on short-term metabolic efficiency, and did not measure any changes in weight.
What kind of research was this?
This was a randomised crossover trial investigating the hypothesis that music can reduce the resting energy expenditure in growing healthy preterm infants. This trial looked at how the music of Mozart affected 20 healthy preterm babies of an appropriate weight for their gestational age.
In their discussion, the researchers say that other research has found that Mozart’s music has improved some aspects of intelligence in adults, lowered heart rates, and reduced salivary cortisol (an indicator of stress levels) and distressed behaviour. They say that Mozart’s music has even increased weight gain in premature infants. The potentially beneficial effect of music has been termed ‘the Mozart effect’.
In this study the researchers investigated how music affects metabolic efficiency, which they say might then explain the effects on weight gain seen in other research. Their study design, a randomised crossover trial, is an appropriate way to assess the effects of an intervention such as the influence of music. As this was a crossover study, the babies would have acted as their own controls. This means that each baby would have been subject to both treatments, with the researchers deriving their results by comparing the way any particular child responded to music with their metabolism during no music.
Read the article here: Newspapers claim hearing Mozart can help premature babies gain weight