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23 May 2012
Musical pacifier helps premature babies feed

Premature babies face many challenges, but Florida State University researchers say one of their biggest problems - learning how to suck and feed - can be helped with the Pacifier Activated Lullaby (PAL) device. The PAL device uses musical lullabies to help infants quickly learn the muscle movements needed to suck, and ultimately feed. Research has shown that PAL can reduce the length of a premature infant's hospital stay by an average of five days.

"Unlike full-term infants, very premature babies come into the world lacking the neurologic ability to coordinate a suck/swallow/breathe response for oral feeding," said Jayne Standley, Florida State's Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of Music Therapy and inventor of the PAL. "The longer it takes them to learn this essential skill, the further behind in the growth process they fall. PAL uses musical lullaby reinforcement to speed this process up, helping them feed sooner and leave the hospital sooner."

PAL uses a specially wired pacifier and speaker to provide musical reinforcement every time a baby sucks on it correctly. The musical lullabies are gentle and pleasant to the baby, making them want to continue the sucking motion so they can hear more of the lullaby. According to Standley, infants will increase their sucking rates up to 2.5 times more than infants not exposed to the musical reinforcement.

Originally envisioned by Standley more than a decade ago, PAL has undergone extensive testing, received a U.S. patent and been approved by the FDA. PAL is now being sold through a partnership with Powers Device Technologies Inc. "After years of research and clinical studies to prove how effective this technology is at solving developmental issues in preterm infants, we are thrilled to be working with Florida State University to bring PAL to market," said P. Kathleen Lovell, president and CEO of Powers Device Technologies. "PAL truly merges science and art to improve the lives of premature infants."

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Source: Florida State University


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