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A Mother's Voice Helps Smallest Babies - John Dunn

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The power of a mother's voice is helping the tiniest babies at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt. A new study reveals the amazing result of singing a lullaby.

Rachel Shrier knows just how far her son John has come. A year ago he was in Vanderbilt's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Born four months early, John weighed just one pound-eight ounces.

Like most premature babies, John had to be trained how to eat. It started with a pacifier, and if he used it correctly, he got something else. A new Vanderbilt study reveals the power of combining a mother voice and a pacifier. Vanderbilt used a prerecorded lullaby to study how babies respond. "If he sucked on the pacifier it would play my voice, and when he stopped sucking, the music would stop," says mother Rachel Shrier.

"Within a couple of days you can already see, they get it, they just get it, and the next few days we work with them to just really reinforce that skill," says study author Dr. Nathalie Maitre.

Dr. Nathalie Maitre says babies ate more frequently, and were able to have their feeding tubes removed about a week earlier than other babies. "Music is incredibly powerful, especially music sung by parents," says Dr. Maitre.

Rachel Shrier knows just how important a parent's voice can be. "It was just amazing to see that he knew who we were, even though he weighed one pound eight ounces," says Shrier.

She has seen little John thrive and grow, and if you visit her home, you will still hear her singing. "Before he goes to bed, I'll sing one of songs, one of the lullabies we sang in the hospital, and it's very sentimental for both of us," says Shrier.

You might be interested to know which songs the mothers sang to their babies. Vanderbilt used "Hush Little Baby" and "Snuggle Puppy." The results of this study were just published in the journal "Pediatrics."

For news updates follow John Dunn on twitter @WZTVJohnDunn

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