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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A prospective observational cohort study of exposure to womb-like sounds to stabilize breathing and cardiovascular patterns in preterm neonates.

  • Author(s): Parga, Joanna J
  • Bhatt, Ravi R
  • Kesavan, Kalpashri
  • Sim, Myung-Shin
  • Karp, Harvey N
  • Harper, Ronald M
  • Zeltzer, Lonnie
  • et al.

PURPOSE:We exposed premature infants to womb-like sounds to evaluate such exposure on breathing and cardiovascular patterns. We hypothesized that these sounds would reduce apnea and intermittent hypoxemia, enhance parasympathetic outflow, and improve cardiovascular patterns. METHODS:A total of 20 cases and 5 control infants at ≤32-36 weeks corrected gestational age participated in a prospective observational cohort study. Twenty-four hours of continuous ECG, respiratory and oxygen saturation data were collected in all infants. Womb-like sounds were played intermittently in 6-hour blocks. Salivary samples were collected at study beginning and end for cortisol. Apnea, intermittent hypoxemia, and bradycardia were evaluated, and heart rate variability was assessed by time domain and spectral techniques. RESULTS:Intermittent hypoxemia and bradycardia significantly declined after sound exposure. No significant differences in apnea, cortisol levels, or heart rate variability were evident among the study infants. CONCLUSIONS:Exposing premature infants to womb-like sounds has the potential to reduce hypoxemic and bradycardic events, and be used as an intervention to stabilize breathing and cardiac control in preterm infants.

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