The Explosion of narcotic and alcohol abuse in the USA has been accompanied by a surge of premature cocaine-exposed babies who often suffer post-natal complications and exhibit poor co-ordination and motor skills along with increased stress behaviour during infancy. Researchers at the department of Pediatrics at the University Miami School of Medicine studied the effects of massage on thirty cocaine-exposed premature babies who were randomly assigned to receive massage therapy or placed in a control group as soon as they were considered medically stable.
The fifteen babies in the treatment group received three 15 minute massages over a period of three consecutive hours each day for ten days. All the babies were monitored as to weight gain, post natal complications and motor skills and compared with the babies in the control group.
The researchers found that the massage group showed significant improvements over the control group. At the end of the ten day period the babies who received massage averaged 28% greater weight gain per day (33g as opposed to 26g in the control group) even thought the dietary volume and calorific intakes were the same in both groups. The babies in the massage group also showed significantly fewer post-natal complications and stress behaviours than the control group, and they also demonstrated more mature motor skills,
This study gives a fascinating insight into the physiological benefits of massage therapy for premature cocaine exposed babies. It seems that ass little as 3 fifteen minute sessions of massage over a period of ten days can make a dramatic difference to a baby’s development and effectively reduce the main problems associated with cocaine exposure. The study indicates that massage therapy may have an increasingly significant role to play in paediatric medicine.
Wheeden A; Scafidi FA; Field T; Ironson G; Valdeon C; Bandstra E. Massage effects on cocaine-exposed pre-term neonates. Department of paediatrics, university of Miami School of Medicine, Florida 33101. Journal of Developmental Behavioural Pediatrics (United Sates) Oct. 1993, 14: 5: 318-22