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Mikulis N, Inder TE, Erdei C. Utilising recorded music to reduce stress and enhance infant neurodevelopment in neonatal intensive care units. Acta Paediatr. 2021 Jun 9.

Aim: This paper summarises published evidence on the use of recorded music in high-risk infants to reduce stress and improve neurodevelopment, forming recommendations for proposed clinical applications in neonatal intensive care units.

Methods: We searched two comprehensive library catalogues and two databases for articles evaluating the impact of recorded music interventions on hospitalised preterm infants. Original and review papers published in English in the 10 years prior to this search were selected if the study included a component of recorded music interventions.

Results: Most original studies (80.95%) and all literature reviews (100%) reported positive effects of recorded music interventions for preterm infants, primarily in the short term. No negative effects were reported. Evidence is emerging regarding the neurobiological mechanisms of recorded music on longer-term effects on preterm infant neurodevelopment. Clinical applications were suggested drawing upon available evidence. Due to generally small sample sizes and variability in study design, unanswered questions remain.

Conclusion: Carefully designed recorded music interventions appear to be safe, feasible and effective in reducing stress and improving neurodevelopment of hospitalised infants. Additional rigorous, well-powered trials with relevant outcomes are needed to further refine specific elements for recorded music interventions to better inform practice.

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