Several studies have shown massage benefits infants, particularly those born prematurely. New research shows tactile and kinesthetic stimulation contributes toward adjustment and self-regulation of behavior among preemies.

Brazilian researchers set out to evaluate the effects of tactile and kinesthetic stimulation on behavioral and clinical development in preterm neonates while still in the hospital.

Thirty-two clinically stable preterm infants weighing <2.500 grams, with no significant perinatal asphyxia, were allocated to two groups: a control group in which no intervention was made (n=16) and a study group in which the newborn infants received tactile and kinesthetic stimulation (n=16), according to a report published on

Data on the infants’ clinical progress were collected from medical charts and behavioral evaluations by means of a series of weekly, eight-minute films recorded from the time of inclusion into the study until hospital discharge.

The study found there was a trend toward a shorter duration of hospital stay, increased daily weight gain and a predominance of self-regulated behavior (regular breathing, state of alertness, balanced tonus, a range of postures, coordinated movements, hand-to-face movement control, suction, grip, support) and better motor control in infants in the study group.

“In the hospital, tactile and kinesthetic stimulation was shown to have a positive effect, contributing towards adjustment and self-regulation of behavior in the preterm newborn infant,” the researchers stated.

The article ran in the Brazilian Journal of Physical Therapy.

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