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Amy Smith Amy Smith

Spotlight on TL1 Program's Amy Smith, Ph.D., Children's Mercy Kansas City

Jan 09, 2024

Project: The Impact of a Music Enrichment Program on Health and Developmental Outcomes During Early Childhood

Overview:

Dr. Smith, an expert in child development, is leading an important study called "The Impact of a Music Enrichment Program on Health and Developmental Outcomes During Early Childhood." The project, backed by funding from the National Institute of Child Health and Development, builds on earlier research led by Dr. Kai Ling Kong at the Baby Health Behavior Lab. Their earlier study found that when parents and kids joined in a music enrichment program, it improved their interactions better than those in regular playdates. This is important because high-quality parent-child interactions can help prevent obesity and improve how kids learn to talk. The lab's recent findings suggest that music enrichment programs may serve as a valuable multi-target intervention to improve childhood health and developmental outcomes via enhanced parent-child interactions.

Dr. Smith's new study aims to see how parent-child interactions might affect kids' health in the long run. This study will expand upon previous findings of parent-child interactions and health and developmental-related outcomes over one year. This research could change how we help kids grow up healthy. Dr. Smith's dedication to understanding how music and family interactions impact kids' health shows her commitment to making the future brighter for our children.

Mentors: Kai Ling Kong, Ph.D.; Ann Davis, Ph.D.; Delwyn Catley, Ph.D.

Amy Smith, Ph.D., who grew up as a vocalist and knew she wanted to have a career incorporating music, spent 15 years as a music therapist at children's hospitals, specifically in the neonatal unit. During this time, she wanted to do more to advance the field of music therapy through research, which prompted her to pursue a Ph.D. and ultimately led her to her current postdoc position at Children's Mercy. "There really is so much more that needs to be done to understand how music can be effective as a health intervention."

"I’m working with Kai Ling Kong, Ph.D., MS, in the Baby Health Behavior Lab at Children’s Mercy, and we’ve been focusing on developmental and health challenges of babies in under-resourced areas of Kansas City,” Smith said. “We’re looking at how parents engage with their infants and how music programs may impact multiple disparities, including language development and obesity risk. We are looking at this through the lens of parent-child interaction, specifically  the quality of the interactions.”

As Smith takes part in the Frontiers TL1 program, there were many factors for her to decide to apply.

“Funding is always important, especially as I look forward to creating my own lab, but the variety of resources you have access to in this program is great,” she said. “The opportunity to connect in person and learn from others has been beneficial because I can see how they approach their research and design it to answer questions.

“I look forward to getting more of that perspective throughout the program.”

No Photo Available

Kelly Hale

Communications Coordinator

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