Preemie Music Therapy

Improve your premature baby's breathing, heart rate and oxygen saturation.

Clinical Study & Results

Since December 2001 the Universitäts-Frauenklinik in Leipzig/Germany (Gynaecological University Clinic) under the direction of Professor Vogtmann brought into action the music therapy “the breath of a new life”  and assigned it as a remarkable success. To conduct the clinical study, this music was directly placed into the incubator by using a small special stereo equipment for 43 minutes. 

The music therapy could improve in a very natural way the breath and heart frequency, the oxygen content in blood and brain, as well as the development of the temperature of the preemies and stabilize clearly even beyond the period of presentation.

Ibolya Levay in Leipzig Germany NICU station, conducting research on the clinical studies which were set to measure the effects of the music therapy on premature babies.

The measuring parameters were compared statistically after the baby’s care during the period of stimulation (with music) and during control times (without music).
The bases of the statistical evaluations are documented on the diagrams of the reports by the University Clinic in Leipzig/Neonatology.

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Medical opinion: Professor Vogtmann

University Clinic in Leipzig/Germany
Anstalt öffentlichen Rechts
Universitätsklinik und Poliklinik für Kinder und Jugendliche
Oststraße 2 1-25, 04317 Leipzig
Direktor: Professor, Dr. med. Wieland Kiess

Music therapy with prematurely born infants
Investigations on reactions of infants when playing the composition “breath of a new life” (Tibor Lévay)

About the consequences of music on body functions and behaviour of newborn children and particularly of premature infants today only a few secured results are known. Therefore the music is generally and systematically not used during the care of premature infants. Probably the meaning and importance for a stimulating development of premature infants with the use of music are underestimated. The goal of our investigations was the question whether the hearing of music has positive effects on measurable physiological parameters and on the behaviour of premature infants.
For this purpose premature infants with weights of around l000g and still with unstable breath functions were offered for 60 minutes one of Mr. Tibor Lévay composed and particularly arranged music (“the breath of a new life”).
Before, during and afterwards in the usual context of machine-technical monitoring, the breathing and heart frequency, oxygen saturation in the blood, as well as the central and peripheral body temperature were measured in a non invasive way and registered and accompanying events were logged.

These data were then analyzed by a third person, who themself was not part of the investigations. A combination of CD player and loudspeaker of SONY served for the rendering of the music.

In the result of this provisional investigation the following effects can be registered:

  • Rise of the oxygen saturation in the blood

  • Reduction of the decrease of saturation numbers per time unit

  • Decrease of the heart frequency

  • Approach of the peripheral – to the central body temperature

It refers throughout to positive effects which can be secured statistically on physiological infantile function parameters.

One later following investigation on a further group of children will clarify whether these results can be reproduced and whether the effects are bound to the offered music and thus are specific.

Professor Dr. Christoph Vogtmann in charge of the neonatology division

Medical opinion: Mrs. Dr. Noecker Noecker-Ribaupierre

“The Breath of a New Life”
– Music for prematurely born babies by Tibor Lévay

Acknowledging the constantly improving technical situation of the medical intensive care, the survival of more and more immature infants becomes possible – survival in the time of growth, in which all sense organs are developed so far that they can receive sensory impulses, which affects considerably the development.
With an intensity of up to 110 db especially the hearing system is extremely unphysiologicaly stressed by the technical surrounding noise of an intensive care unit.

This increases the stress of a newborn, which can be viewed and measured, and favours thereby the development of restraining effects of stress to the entire organism of a premature infant. The fact that music works on calming down and stress-reducing was documented by numerous studies, especially in the USA.
Tibor Lévay´s composed music differs from all others offered so far: It aims particularly at this situation, by including on the one hand the surrounding noises or rather absorbs them. On the other hand also this music corresponds to the acoustic needs of small children through the particular musical organization. With simple sounds and hummed or sung melodies, as well as soft instrumental accompaniment this world of sounds creates a reassuring and wrapping feeling.
Adults who listened to the music of Tibor Lévay judge it in such a way, as one wishes it for these children: “as if the feeling of separation disappears, one feels secured, full of love and longing, one is affected in the soul “.
The music was created as a gentle assistance and natural cure – a music, which mediates live. It is not a prescription and it replaces no live contact, above all it can not replace the parents – however it should not be missing on any intensive care unit, if at certain moments nobody can be there for the child.

Munich, May 2003
Dr. Monika Noecker Ribaupierre
dipl. Music Therapist

++ 7 prematurely born children:
1. A. Y. starting from 2nd  life day
2. S. L. starting from 34th  life day
3. S. P. starting from 23rd  life day
4. P. J. starting from 25th  life day
5. P. M. starting from 11th  life day
6. S. M. starting from 24th  life day
7. F. J. starting from 3rd  life day

Results of the music therapy, which recorded the oxygen saturation, heart frequency and the respiration. The findings indicate improvement in the 3 measured parameters.

  • Clinically stable

  • Stimulation time with the music: 2 – 6 times per day during 1 hour, day and night

  • From 22.03. to 19. 05. 2002

Measuring parameter:

  1. Basal heart frequency/ exact frequency per minute/ (HF)
  2. SpO2 – oxygen saturation/ 1 % exactly per minute
  3. Saturation decreases: Amounts, depth, duration until 1 minute
  4. Respiration rate/exact frequency per minute/(AF)
  5. Temperature distribution/ central -peripherial difference/(T1 – T2)

After the infants care the measuring parameters were statistically compared in the time of stimulation (with music) and control times (without music).

The bases of the statistic evaluations are the diagram reports from Universitätsklinik Leipzig/ Neonatologie.

Tibor Levay is analysing the monitored results of the premature babies. Finding that the music therapy has a positive effect on improving the essential life functions.

RESULTS of Clinical Study

1. Basal heart frequency

The optimal heart frequency lies in the range between 100 and 150 per minute. On average the heart frequency is lower and more constant with music.

In the comparison:

Measurements with music
Measurements without music

The following values showed:

Optimum ~ 120 BPM

with music 135,7 BPM 140,4 131,7
without music 143,2 BPM 153,1 135,4

2. SpO2 – Oxygen saturation

With music the average values are more stable and a higher oxygen content was measured.

Optimum 97 %

with music97,47 %98,7593,35
without music94,49 %96,2791,20

3. Oxygen Saturation (SpO2) Declines (drops)
Optimum SpO2: 97%.

This chart shows the largest benefit of the therapy.  

The drops of oxygen saturation are responsible for the well-known damages. The graph shows the number of declines in the critical range of oxygen saturation between 80% and 90%. The result shows the number of occurred drops in oxygen saturation with the use of music therapy (minimal drops), compared without music. 

i.e.: During a 60 hour period without music there were 98 drops at 90% Saturation.  

i.e.: During a 60 hour period with music there were only 9 drops at the same SpO2 percentage.

4. Respiration rate With music a lower and more balanced respiration rate was obtained and is represented in the result. Optimum ~ 50 BPM
with music 42,44 BPM 49,9 36,64
without music 43,61 BPM 56,22 34,74
With music a lower and more balanced respiration rate was obtained and is represented in the result.

5. Temperature – profile of central and peripherial temperature comparison

The body heat of the premature baby has increased when listening to the music.

The evaluation shows an increase and an approximation of the central and peripherial temperatures when using music.

T1 = central temperature
T2 = peripherial temperature

Summary of Clinical Results

The clinical results have provided us with the insight that the 4 most important benefits of the music therapy. 

1. Stabilising the heart rate.
2. Improving the breathing rate.
3. Improving the oxygen saturation. 
4. These benefits and results remain for the next 40 – 60 minutes even after the music has played.

Click here to find out how best to apply the music therapy.