Numerous studies have indicated massage therapy’s benefits to premature infants. New research shows massage also assists full-term infants with weight gain.

Researchers in Chile recently sent out to evaluate the effects of massage on infant weight gain and exclusive maternal breast-feeding, with an intervention that involved teaching mothers to massage their full-term infants.

The sample included 100 healthy newborn infants who were receiving primary health care at three health centers in a low-income neighborhood of Santiago, Chile, according to a report published on www.pubmed.gov. The control group included 65 infants and the massage group included 35 infants.

During their second well-child clinic visit, clinic nurses provided instruction to massage-group mothers about how to massage their infants, based on the methods of the Baby’s First Massage program (www.babysfirstmassage.com).

Mothers were encouraged to massage their infants for 10 to 15 minutes at least once a day, starting when their infants were 15 days old.

There was no difference in the mean weights of the infants between the massage and control groups at baseline, but at age 2 months, massage group infants weighed significantly more than control-group infants, the report noted. There were no weight differences between the two groups at age 4 months. There were no differences between the two groups on the incidence of exclusive maternal breast-feeding at age 2 or 4 months.

“The findings suggest that teaching mothers to massage their newborn infants may have a beneficial effect on the infant’s early weight gain,” the researchers noted. “There is a need for additional studies to evaluate the effect of maternal massage on other health and welfare outcomes for both mothers and infants.”

The research is published in the Journal of Perinatal & Neonatal Nursing.

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