A new musical pacifier may help address one of the biggest issues premature babies face – learning how to suck and feed properly. Created by Professor Jayne Standley of Florida State University, the Pacifier Activated Lullaby (PAL) device will soon be available to hospitals around the world through a partnership with Powers Device Technologies Inc. PAL technology works by stimulating non-nutritive sucking (NNS) and organized breathe-suck-swallow activity through a pressure transducer system that provides individual lullaby/voice feedback to a correct “suck” technique. If you’re unclear on what non-nutritive sucking is, it’s an essential life skill that helps newborn infants feed, breathe, comfort themselves, and grow on both a physically and neurological level. Preemies, born before they’d acquire this skill, often have trouble achiving NNS naturally, which is where PAL comes in. The innovative PAL device features musical lullabies which help infants quickly learn how to suck, and ultimately feed, via innovative musical melodies. PAL is an important development as more than 500,000 premature babies are born each year in just the United States alone, and often NNS problems are a major concern for preemies.
One of the best things about PAL is that it offers newborns comfort while teaching them an essential life skill, making PAL a valuable complement to NICU care. Research studies have shown that PAL can reduce the length of a premature infant’s hospital stay by an average of five days. Beyond a reduced hospital stay, research shows that preemies who use PAL experience the following benefits:
- Earlier transition to oral feeding.
- More rapid weight gain.
- Improved behavioral state control.
- Decreased stress.
- Enhanced maturation of neural systems.
Images via Office of Research, Florida State University