Premature Baby Massage

Premature Baby Massage

In one study, Michigan researchers investigated the effects massage therapy have on the health of 120 preemie babies in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), specifically, the presence of natural killer cell cytotoxicity (NK) that naturally protects infants from disease.

One group of babies received therapeutic massage five days a week for up to four weeks or until they were discharged. Compared to a control group who received no treatment, the babies who received a regular massage had higher levels of NK cell cytotoxicity. Their cells were better equipped to kill pathogens and disease, regardless of how the babies were delivered.

What’s more, infants who received massages enjoyed greater weight gains and were heavier when the study ended than those in the control group who were untreated.

How it works: Researchers speculate massage may offset the stress that lessens the effect of NK cells.

Preemies were also helped in a second study that measured the value of massage given by licensed massage therapists to 22 patients twice daily and six days a week for four weeks, as compared to a similar group who was untreated.

Although babies of both sexes benefited from the healing touch, massage treatments improved the way body fat was deposited in baby boys. Such tiny improvements at the beginning of their young lives may make a world of difference, scientists say, by reducing their likelihood of metabolic syndrome, the collection of risk factors that increase a patient’s risks of type 2 diabetes, stroke and coronary artery disease as they get older.

Suggestions for your massage practice

1. Find out how many of your female clients are pregnant. Encourage clients to ask you about the benefits of infant massage.

2. Network with colleagues at hospitals in your market so you can share your healing gifts with patients tall and tiny.



Medscape (free subscription required)


Medscape (free subscription required)

Journal of Pediatrics

Melissa Wood, ND