Infant massage has positive effect on electrical brain activity in preterm babies: study

A positive correlation between massage therapy given to preterm babies and the development of the maturation of their electrical brain activity has been found in an Italian study, the results of which were published in 2011.

The research involved twenty newborns who were considered ‘low risk’ – that is, those who were considered relatively healthy and not suffering from significant complications. The gestational age of the babies was between 30 and 33 weeks.

Massage therapy was started when the babies were around 10 days old and consisted of a total of 15 minutes of massage on the back, head, neck, shoulders, buttocks, legs and arms. Electrical brain activity was measured using an EEG (electroencephalography) system.

The researchers concluded that in low risk preterm babies “massage therapy favours a process of maturation of brain electrical activity similar to that observed in utero in term infants” (p. 50).

Guzzetta, A. et al. (2011). The effects of preterm infant massage in brain electrical activity. The Journal of Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 53 (4), 46 – 51.