A fetus hears and responds to maternal sounds as early as 26 weeks' gestation. When born prematurely, a neonate may face health challenges due to overall organ immaturity and hospitalization in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where developmentally important maternal sounds are replaced with routine hospital noise. A potential intervention that can provide meaningful auditory stimulation these neonates lack is implementation of maternal sound interventions. These interventions replicate the intrauterine auditory environment by playing recorded maternal speech and heart sounds in the incubator. A literature review was completed to identify effects on neurodevelopmental, nutritional, and physiological measurements this intervention may have on premature neonates. A review of the literature was conducted using the databases CINAHL Plus with Full Text, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, MEDLINE, and PsycINFO. Search terms utilized were: Voice/Sound; preterm/prematur*; neonat*/infant*/newborn; and matern*/mother*. Results were refined using limiters of peer-reviewed, publication date of 2012-2017, and English language. Twelve articles met the criteria for review. The maternal sounds intervention was found to correlate with improved neurodevelopment in the first months of life, especially relating to auditory and language areas of the brain. Nutritional outcomes were positive, but studies were inconsistent with findings. The physiological measurements were positively affected, with strong evidence of a calming effect, and lowering of the heart rate. Results indicated recorded maternal sound interventions were associated with positive health outcomes in premature neonates. Further research with larger sample sizes and uniform study designs are needed to validate the findings.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Breit, Donna


Quelly, Susan


Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)


College of Nursing

Degree Program



Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access

1 year

Release Date