Acupressure and meridian massage applied three times per day for 10 days resulted in significant weight gain among premature infants, according to recent research.

In the study, “Acupressure and meridian massage: combined effects on increasing body weight in premature infants,” 40 premature infants were randomly assigned to receive either standard care, along with acupressure and meridian massage, or standard care alone.

In order to be eligible for participation, the infants had to have a gestation age of less than 34 weeks, a birth age greater than seven days and a weight range of 1,400 to 1,800 grams, among other criteria.

The standard care for both groups included close observation of vital signs, daily bathing and weight evaluation, feeding every three hours and other routine methods of care for premature infants.

For those subjects assigned to the acupressure and meridian massage group, the hands-on intervention was performed three times per day for 15 minutes per session. The sessions were conducted one hour before feeding.
Each session involved acupressure at Zhongwan (RN-12), Zusanli (ST-36) and Yongquan (KI-1) points, as well as abdominal rubbing, spleen and stomach meridian massage, and kneading at the points along the spine of the bladder meridian. According to researchers, the massage did not cause distress to the infants and was focused on these particular acupoints to promote gastrointestinal and physical development.

Outcome measures for this study included each infant’s body weight and the volume of milk ingested, both of which were measured and recorded daily.

Results of the research revealed no significant difference in the amount of breast milk or formula consumed between the massage and standard-care groups. However, the average daily weight gain of the massage group was significantly higher than that of the control group.

“As a result of our findings, we concluded that acupressure and meridian massage have a significant effect on body weight gain in premature infants,” said the study’s authors.

Authors: Li-Li Chen, Yi-Chang Su, Chia-Hsien Su, Hung-Chih Lin and Hsien-Wen Kuo.

Sources: School of Nursing, School of Chinese Medicine, Department of Nursing, Department of Pediatrics and Institute of Environmental Health, China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan. Originally published in Journal of Clinical Nursing (2008) 17, 1174-1181.

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