NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - The sounds of Mozart might help slow premature infants' metabolism, potentially helping them to put on needed weight, according to an Israeli study.
Most research into the so-called "Mozart effect" has focused on whether listening to the composer can boost a person's IQ but researchers are also finding evidence that music generally may help premature infants put by aiding weight gain and growth.
Israeli researchers looked at the potential effects of Mozart on 20 premature but healthy infants' resting metabolism, based on the premise that lower metabolism might explain the increased weight gain studies have attributed to music.
The researchers measured the babies' resting metabolism as the infants listened to 30 minutes of Mozart on two consecutive days and measured the infants' metabolism during 30 minutes of silence on another two consecutive days.
They found on average the infants' metabolism slowed by up to 13 percent within 10 to 30 minutes of listening to a "Baby Mozart" CD.
Researcher Dr. Ronit Lubetzky of Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center said the findings support the theory that music might help premature babies gain weight although the team did not directly measure the infants' weights.
A report, published in the journal Pediatrics, said it was also still unclear whether the study has detected a "Mozart effect" or a potential benefit of music in general.
But they said a previous study of adults with seizures found that compositions by Mozart, more so than other classical composers, appeared to lower seizure frequency.
Lubetzky's team said it was possible that the proposed Mozart effect on the brain is related to the structure of his compositions as Mozart's music tends to repeat the melodic line more frequently.
Other researchers have speculated that this more-organized musical structure may have greater resonance for the brain.
But Lubetzky said further studies were "essential" to determine whether music therapy has a place in premature infants' early care.
Reporting by Reuters Health, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith