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For babies, "Barney" can be replaced by Bach, Beethoven or Brahms

Georgia program bringing classics to newborns

Web posted on: Wednesday, June 24, 1998 3:28:20 PM

ATLANTA (CNN) -- Starting next month, newborns in Georgia will be bathing in music by Beethoven, Mozart, Handel, Schubert, Vivaldi, Pachelbel and Bach, thanks to a program that Georgia Gov. Zell Miller launched on Wednesday.

The program will hand out classical music CDs and cassettes to the parents of newborns in the state. Although Miller delivered the first tapes from his office in Atlanta, it officially gets underway next month.

In studies, kids who listen to complex music show better math scores and logical skills

The governor's initiative comes on the heels of new research showing a link between listening to classical music and enhanced brain development in infants. Previous studies have shown the complicated compositions of Mozart and other classical musicians can improve mathematical and logic skills in older children.

"Babies are born with a tangle of neurons, kind of like spaghetti right after you dump it out of the pot, and the more stimuli that you provide to a young infant, the more connections those noodles make," explained pediatrician Karen Dewling.

And there is evidence that even babies inside the womb may benefit from the soothing sounds of the classics.

Expectant mothers can deliver music straight to the womb via music players that are strapped to the abdomen

Sony helped out

When Miller first unveiled his plan in January, it stood as a state budget proposal with a price tag of $105,000. Critics argued that the effectiveness of music on babies has yet to be scientifically established.

A short time later, Sony Music Entertainment agreed to produce the CDs and cassettes at no charge to taxpayers. The governor, a former teacher, has devised a distribution system to make the music available to each of the approximately 100,000 children born in the state every year.

The album is entitled "Build Your Baby's Brain Through the Power of Music." Sony says the cassettes and CDs will not be sold at record stores or distributed outside the state.

"It's my hope that teachers and parents will use music just like they use good food and vegetables -- that there's a place for it in their diet," said Don Campbell, the author of "The Mozart Effect."

"We know that it improves the quality of life. We know that it improves the quality of life from an aesthetic standpoint. And we're at the place we can say it helps intelligence, we know it helps health, and it can help us orchestrate a better mind and body," he said.

Correspondent Pat Etheridge contributed to this report.

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