Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Massage therapy shown to improve stress response in preterm infants

Date:
May 14, 2013
Source:
University of Louisville
Summary:
A new study has found massage therapy that involved moderate pressure and stroking of the soft tissues followed by flexing and extending the joints of the arms and legs increased heart rate variability in male, but not in female preterm infants.

It seems that even for the smallest of people, a gentle massage may be beneficial. Newborn intensive care units (NICUs) are stressful environments for preterm infants; mechanical ventilation, medical procedures, caregiving activities and maternal separation create these stressful conditions.

Born under-developed, preemies have an immature autonomic nervous system (ANS), which controls stress response and recovery. For a preemie, even a diaper change is stressful and the immature ANS over reacts to these stressors. Since preterm infants can't process stressors appropriately, interventions are needed to enhance ANS function and maturity.

Massage therapy may reduce stress in preterm infants by promoting ANS development. A study published recently in Early Human Development, conducted by University of Louisville School of Nursing researcher Sandra Smith, PhD, and her team at the University of Utah, found massage therapy that involved moderate pressure and stroking of the soft tissues followed by flexing and extending the joints of the arms and legs increased heart rate variability (HRV) in male, but not in female preterm infants.

HRV is a measure of ANS function and development. Infants who are born at term gestation demonstrate increased HRV, but preemies typically show decreased HRV and an inability to appropriately respond to stressors. Massaged male preterm infants demonstrated increased HRV similar to term infants, which supports their ability to correctly respond to stressors.

Researchers measured HRV during periods of sleep and caregiving immediately after massage therapy at the end of the second week of study in 21 medically stable male and female preterm infants. There was no difference in HRV between female preterm infants that received massage and those that did not. HRV increased weekly in the four male preterm infants that received massage therapy but did not increase in the male infants that did not receive massages. This finding suggests that massage enhanced development of the ANS in male preterm infants and may improve preterm infant response to stressful events.

"We were surprised to learn the differences in the impact of massage therapy on preterm boys and girls," Smith said. "Boys who received massage therapy demonstrated increased heart rate variability, but the therapy did not seem to affect HRV in girls -- perhaps there are hormonal reasons for this difference."

Smith said future research is needed with a larger sample of preterm infants to understand how massage therapy affects ANS development, and to determine the mechanisms by which massage therapy promotes ANS function in preterm infants.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Louisville. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S L Smith, R Lux, S Haley, H Slater, J Beechy, L J Moyer-Mileur. The effect of massage on heart rate variability in preterm infants. Journal of Perinatology, 2012; 33 (1): 59 DOI: 10.1038/jp.2012.47

Cite This Page:

University of Louisville. "Massage therapy shown to improve stress response in preterm infants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130514190641.htm>.
University of Louisville. (2013, May 14). Massage therapy shown to improve stress response in preterm infants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130514190641.htm
University of Louisville. "Massage therapy shown to improve stress response in preterm infants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130514190641.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Reuters - US Online Video (July 28, 2014) Two American aid workers in Liberia test positive for Ebola while working to combat the deadliest outbreak of the virus ever. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins