Music Therapy for Infants with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

Jasmine Edwards, Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospitals

Susan Bakouros, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center

Susan opens with a description of the issues the US is currently facing with babies who are born with opioid addiction, including those born to mothers who were receiving methadone treatment during pregnancy. She describes her own experience of comforting newborns using non-pharmacological intervention therapies.

Susan Bakouros demonstrates “Ocean Disc”, a percussion instrument that acoustically simulates the sound of the womb

Jasmine speaks now about the Rhythm, Breath and Lullaby (RBL) three prong model – bringing together environment, infant and caregiver to apply music-based therapies for pain, trauma and addiction in babies. The research demonstrates clearly how important the parental role can be in the babies’ recovery. Bonding and attachment can be impeded by the hospital environment, and the interventions – for parent care and infant direct care – are mindful of this. The supporting clinical trials are cited.

We hear, again, the Ocean Disc (womb sound), and also the Gato Box (heartbeat sound). [JB note – these are now actually commercially available as percussion instruments)

Video: Tonal Vocal Holding. A music therapist sings open ‘ahhh’ vowel sounds, in sync with the baby’s respiration, and in the key of the heart monitor.

[JB comment – I’m really impressed by the apparent rigour of the clinical trials that these treatments have undergone. There are many available therapies in the US – for example chiropractic – that are controversial/pseudoscientific, and unsupported by clinical evidence. These music therapies are experiencing continual/frequent clinical trials and there are some well-articulated study designs, including randomized trials and quantitative/qualitative method combinations].