- Premature babies are those born before 37 weeks.
- When a mother talks to her child during a procedure, pain levels go lower- a study says.
Premature babies in the Intensive care Unit (ICU) experience less pain when they hear their mothers’ voices- a study shows.
Premature babies are those born before 37 weeks and may be undergoing various procedures while in the incubators.
“These can include the collection of blood samples for testing, the insertion of feeding tubes and intubation for those that need help breathing,” British outlet Daily Mail reports.
Unlike adults, infants cannot be issued with painkillers to avoid interfering with their neurological development.
A study conducted by researchers at the University of Geneva showed having the mother present helped lower their child’s pain levels, and raise oxytocin levels.
Oxytocin tends to reduce stress levels and ignite happiness or excitement.
From a sample size of 20 infants at Parini Hospital, a research team led by neuropsychologist Didier Grandjean carried out three studies.
Pain levels vs oxytocin levels
In one, the mother was absent during a blood sample test, in the second the mother spoke to the child during the test, while on the third she sang.
Using a Preterm Infant Pain Profile (PIPP) that measures pain levels on a scale of 0 to 21, a child’s levels dropped from 4.5 to 3 when the mother was talking during the procedure. When singing, they dropped to 3.8.
Professor Grandjean says “this difference with the spoken voice can be explained by the fact that the mother adapts her vocal intonations less to what she perceives in her baby when she sings, because she is in a way constrained by the melodic structure.”
The findings point to the importance of parents being present when their child is in the ICU and undergoing development. However, the researchers acknowledged most fathers were absent during the early days as most were away working.
“This strengthens the essential attachment bonds that are taken for granted in a full-term birth,” Professor Grandjean added.