• Livio Provenzi

Protected by your mother's voice

Very preterm infants present neurobehavioral immaturity and even in absence of severe medical complications they require long-lasting hospitalization in a highly medicalized unit for intensive care (the NICU). Due to the need for intensive medical support, very preterm infants are separated from their mothers, thus lacking the human holding and careful support that mother-nature provided to our species. We know that very preterm infants face a long-lasting journey of learning how to regulate themselves, their physiology and their behavior in the absence of the immediate post-natal maternal support. But what happens when mothers are allowed to be present and to talk to their tiny very preterm newborns?

In a recent publication from our group, we have resumed the evidence to date of the effects of maternal voice exposure on pretern infants' physiology, brain and behavior. Evidence show that preterm infants's growth, neurobehavioral maturation and behavioral stability benefit from the exposure to maternal voice.

[...] maternal voice appears to be a promising intervention to facilitate intimacy and togetherness in the NICU and to support the multi-domain maturation of preterm infants from the very beginning of their life.

Are you curious about the full pool of findings and evidence? Go get the paper on Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews!


Want to know more about maternal voice? Go get Manuela Filippa book entitled "Early vocal contact and preterm infant brain development" here.

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Provenzi L, Broso S, Montirosso R (2018). Do mothers sound good? A systematic review of the effects of maternal voice exposure on preterm infants' development. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 88, 42-50.

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