Health

LA researchers are using a musical pacifier to help premature babies

Music therapist Sandra Cheah, left, with Julian Middleton and his mom Jamie Middleton during a music therapy session at UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital, Santa Monica.
Music therapist Sandra Cheah, left, with Julian Middleton and his mom Jamie Middleton during a music therapy session at UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital, Santa Monica.
Priska Neely/KPCC

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When Jamie Middleton gave birth to her son Julian 11 weeks early, she felt helpless.

“There’s not a lot you can do as a NICU parent and a lot of times, you have limitations in how you can comfort your baby,” she said.

But a few days, after he was born, she found something that helped: music therapy. At UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital, music therapists are working with parents of premature infants to write songs and make recordings that the babies can listen to when parents can’t be there. But the music is also used to help preemies learn to feed so they can leave the hospital sooner.

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