Little Hudson Massey loves listening to music nestled close to his mom. He was born three months early, weighing less than 3 pounds.
"Wasn't moving very much, was very red... it was really overwhelming," mom Andrea Zalkin said.
After six weeks in an incubator, Hudson is now strong enough to spend some time outside it and enjoy some music therapy.
"When the music is playing, his behavior changes and my behavior changes as well," Zalkin said.
New research from the Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine shows playing live music to premature babies like Hudson can help them get healthier.
"Lowering of the heart rate, high oxygen saturation, which is sort of more even, comfortable breathing," said Dr. Aimee Telsey, a neonatologist at Beth Israel Medical Center.
A gato box mimics a mother's heartbeat. When it was played during music therapy sessions, almost all of the infants sucking ability increased.
"Music has the capacity because it has rhythm, timbre, melody and phrasing, to synchronize in time with the baby's vital signs," said study author Dr. Joanne Loewy of Beth Israel's Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine.
The study found lullabies also helped ease parents' stress and anxiety.
"It calms my heart rate," Zalkin said. "It allows the relationship I have with Hudson to grow and it allows us to be more comfortable with each other."
Mom's song of choice is "Eight Days a Week." She says it will be music to her ears when doctors finally let Hudson go home.
Recorded music can be helpful, too, but the study found greater benefits with live music because the volume and rhythm are adjusted to each baby.
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