1Department of Nursing, Bouali Sina Hospital, Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences, Sari, IR Iran
2Non-Communicable Pediatric Diseases Research Center, Babol University of Medical Sciences, Babol, IR Iran
3Department of Nursing, Babol University of Medical Sciences, Babol, IR Iran
4Department of Biostatistics, Babol University of Medical Sciences, Babol, IR Iran
5Pediatrics Department, Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences, Sari, IR Iran
Background According to existing theories, supportive cares provided through specific kinds of stimuli affect the growth, development and neurobehavioral functioning of preterm infants. Some of the studies indicate that the fetal heart rate response to mother’s voice begins in the week 32 of pregnancy. However, the fact that whether preterm infant is able to recognize mother’s live voice from the voice of a stranger woman is unknown. Objectives The present study aimed to compare the effects of mother’s voice and a stranger’s voice on the heart rate of preterm infants hospitalized in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Methods In a clinical trial study, 66 preterm infants hospitalized in the NICU were randomly assigned into three groups of 22 (i.e. mother’s voice and stranger’s voice groups and a silent group). The infants’ heart rates were recorded by a monitoring system in all of the three groups each five minutes for 30 minutes overall (10 minutes before, during and after the intervention) in three consecutive days. Both one-way and repeated measures analysis of variance were used to analyze the data in terms of significant differences. Also, the chi-square test and analysis of variance were used to compare the demographic variables of the groups. Results The heart rate of the infants in the mother’s voice group, stranger’s voice group and the silent group were 133.99 ± 2.72, 134.26 ± 2.43 and 137.94 ± 2.92 per minutes, respectively (P > 0.588) and changed to 143.42 ± 2.85, 133.22 ± 2.15 and 138.28 ± 2.21, respectively (P = 0.016). Moreover, the infants’ heart rates were respectively 136.87 ± 3.38, 132.68 ± 2.22 and 138.19 ± 2.65 per minutes, 10 minutes after the intervention (P > 0.345). Conclusions No significant difference was found between the mean heart rates of the three groups neither before, nor 10 minutes after the intervention. However, a significant difference was observed among the three groups during the intervention. Therefore, we can conclude that the preterm infants can recall and differentiate their mothers’ voice from the voice of a stranger. Then, an opportunity can be provided during the developmental care for the infants to hear their mothers’ voice.