Massage therapy has been found in past studies to boost preterm infants’ weight, help their rest-activity cycle, and benefit parent-infant bonding.

New research indicates that massage therapy benefits preterm infants’ brain electrical activity.

The investigators set out to test the hypothesis that massage determines changes in EEG spectral activity, a highly sensitive index of brain maturation, in preterm infants, according to an abstract published on

Infants were randomly allocated to a massage or comparison group, the abstract noted, and intervention consisted of standard care only (comparison group) or standard care plus infant massage (massage group).

“Massage was started at around 10 days after birth and was provided for 12 days during a two-week period,” stated the abstract. “EEG was performed at around one and four weeks, i.e. before and after intervention.

“The modification in global EEG spectral power between the two assessments was significantly different for the two groups, especially for the delta band activity; the spectral power did not change in massaged infants although, not surprisingly, it decreased significantly in the comparison group, as shown by previous studies,” the abstract noted.

“We propose that massage intervention affects the maturation of brain electrical activity and favors a process more similar to that observed in utero in term infants,” the investigators noted.

“The effects of preterm infant massage on brain electrical activity” was published in Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology. (2011 Sep;53 Suppl 4:46-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.2011.04065.x.)

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