Baby massage Information

Infant massage is massage given to a young infants involving tactile and kinesthetic stroke and rubbing stimulation as a therapy to enhance their cognitive and physical development. Such contact is also found in other mammals where the mother provides tactile stimulation as part of their care through licking, grooming, and physical contact. Infant massage is widespread in traditional societies. Research finds that massage enhances neural development and body growth in rodents and humans and is particularly important for preterm infants.

Full term infants receiving massage therapy show more weight, greater length, less irritability and better sleep. It also reduces crying and improves an infant's ability to regulate their stress hormones. Mothers with postnatal depression that massage their infants reduce their own depression and improve the quality of their social interactions with their infants.

Preterm newborns receiving massage in neonatal intensive-care units gain more body weight than those that do not. Other benefits include increased bone mineralization, bone density, bone length, and head circumference. They also show higher psycho-motor development and significantly higher Mental Development Index scores. Such massage therapy seems to be more effective when it involves "moderate" pressure than "light" pressure. Such infants also sleep better. The body temperature of preterm infants increases when given massage compared to controls "even though the incubator portholes remained open during the 15 min massage therapy session but not for the control group over an equivalent time period". This has been suggested to be due to better control by the infant's brain of its body state and its blood circulation.Massage to the leg reduces pain prior to heel stick venipuncture. Nondepressed mothers also show lower anxiety if they massage their preterm infants.Length of stay in hospital and occurrence of late-onset sepsis is also reduced by mothers massaging their preterm infants.

Wikipedia, Baby massage, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_massage (as of May 18, 2010)

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