Stable Preterm Infants Gain More Weight and Sleep Less after Five Days of Massage Therapy
Objective To examine the effects of 5 days of massage therapy on the weight gain and sleep/wake behavior of hospitalized stable preterm infants. Methods Massage therapy (body stroking/passive limb movement for three 15-minute periods per day) was provided to 16 preterm neonates (mean gestational age, 30.1 weeks; mean birth weight, 1359 g), and their weight gain, formula intake, kilocalories, stooling, and sleep/wake behavior were compared with a group of 16 control infants (mean gestational age, 31.1 weeks; mean birth weight, 1421 g). Results The massage group averaged 53% greater daily weight gain than the control group. The massage group spent less time sleeping at the end of 5 treatment days than the control group and more time in the drowsy state. Conclusions Healthy, low-risk preterm infants gained more weight and slept less with just 5 days of massage, in contrast to 10 days in previous studies. Results support the continued use of massage as a cost-effective therapy for medically stable preterm infants.