The impact of home musical activities on language development in infants born prematurely

Masters thesis

Chifa, M. 2023. The impact of home musical activities on language development in infants born prematurely. Masters thesis Middlesex University Psychology
TypeMasters thesis
TitleThe impact of home musical activities on language development in infants born prematurely
AuthorsChifa, M.

Fast-growing evidence supports that musical activities positively impact children`s overall development, especially language development. However, little research has been conducted regarding the relationship between the home musical environment and language development in infants born prematurely, a population at risk for language delays and impairments. The present study investigated the influence of early musical experience (including parental singing) measured by the Music@Home questionnaire (Politimou et al., 2018), while controlling for general enrichment at home (STIMQ, Dreyer et al., 1996) as well as perinatal PTSD (PPQ) (Callahan et al., 2006), on language development measured by CDI-UK (Alcock et al., 2020). A sample of 145 infants between 8 and 18 months (corrected age) was divided into two groups: [1] main sample (n=117) – infants without any suspected or identified areas of difficulty; [2] sub-sample (n=28) – infants with suspected or identified areas of difficulties, to avoid the introduction of a confound which might have affected the language scores either because of prematurity or other neurological conditions. Based on the main sample, unexpectedly, results revealed that infants did not experience language delays. As hypothesised, results showed that home musical environment significantly predicted infants` comprehension and gestural communication, independently from infants` corrected age. Additionally, gestural communication was predicted by infants` gestational age, which emphasises that prematurity impacts language development. Interestingly, even in the group with suspected disability, music at home facilitated language development. These findings constitute the first demonstration that an enriched musical environment can enhance development of communication skills in a population at risk for language delays, namely infants born prematurely, opening the path for future intervention research and offering encouragement to families of preterm infants. The participants in this study were representative of middle/upper class, highly educated parents, hence future research must specifically focus on lower class, less educated families.

Sustainable Development Goals3 Good health and well-being
4 Quality education
Middlesex University ThemeHealth & Wellbeing
Department namePsychology
Institution nameMiddlesex University
Publication dates
Print04 Apr 2023
Publication process dates
Deposited04 Apr 2023
Accepted03 Mar 2023
Output statusPublished
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