massage premature baby

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

Published by Body & Mind Balance

Aroma-therapist, Botanical skin care and perfumes, Inspiring speaker and coach for personal development. Workshops and one-on-one sessions. I am a horseback archer who likes to play with fire and sew costumes.


  1. Advantageously, the article is actually the greatest on this precious topic. I concur with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your future updates. Just saying thanks will not just be adequate, for the extraordinary clarity in your writing. I will immediately grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates. Fabulous work and much success in your business enterprise!

  2. I was doing a little investigating of the topic premature massage for newborns when I discovered this link. It happens to be a photo that was taken by our team during massage in the NICU at Phoenix Childrens Hospital. The fact is that infant massage for premature newborns is being introduced in many NICU’s across America. The benefits and advantages are being embraced over the possible disadvantages – especially when properly introduced and applied.

    1. Diana; So nice to hear from you. I have done some work around massage and children with learning /concentration problems and it is amazing what a difference massage makes! I am so glad you found me and it’s really cool that the picture is from your work. Do you have the name of the photographer so I could put it in the post…credit given.
      Would you consider guest-blogging by me; you have so much experience and it would be really nice for others to tap into that. Anna

  3. Hello I was wondering if anybody had any information on Massage Therapy for newborns in the NICU? I am going to school for Massage Therapy in September and was wondering if there was another degree i would have to have in order to work with the babies in a massage program along side the doctors in the hospitals. Thank You

    1. Hy Mydori, I don’t know where you are. First of all you should check out rules and legislations in your area (country) and find out if you need more than your massage-training, you might need a nurse license. Maybe you could try to find some kind of apprentice-ship with children? Good luck to you.

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