Massage :: Massage improves weight gain in preterm infants
Moderate pressure massage therapy increases weight gain in preterm infants by improving stomach motion, investigators at the University of Miami School of Medicine report.
Clinical trials have documented greater weight gain in premature infants after 5 to 10 days of massage, even though food intake and total sleeping time are not increased, Dr. Miguel A. Diego and his associates point out in the Journal of Pediatrics.
To determine the reason behind massage’s beneficial effects, Diego’s group randomly selected 48 preterm infants to receive moderate-pressure massage therapy, nontherapeutic light massage or no massage. The electrical activity of the heart and the stomach was assessed before, during and after the treatment sessions on the first day of the trial.
Moderate massage therapy was applied with the infant positioned on his or her stomach, with pressure sufficient to produce a slight skin color change — from pink to white in a white infant or slight indentations in the skin. The light massage was identical to the therapeutic massage, except that the massage produced no skin color change or skin indentation.
The investigators note that infants in the true massage group gained 27 percent more weight than those in the other groups, but food intake was not affected. Further analysis showed that this weight gain was related to improvements in stomach motion.