In new research, massage therapy improved heart rate variability in a homogeneous sample of hospitalized, medically stable, preterm male infants, and may improve infant response to exogenous stressors, according to an abstract published on

The researchers, from the School of Nursing at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, speculated that massage therapy thus improved the infants’ autonomic nervous system function.

For this study, licensed massage therapists provided the massage or control condition twice a day for four weeks. Weekly heart rate variability, a measure of autonomic nervous system development and function, was analyzed using SPSS generalized estimating equations.

The study is running in the Journal of Perinatology.

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