Infant Massage Research Papers

An early intervention such as massage that is relatively easy to administer and could alter the trajectory of preterm infant brain development, holds potential to improve neurodevelopmental outcomes in this vulnerable population.

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The neuromaturation of the cerebral cortex, initially laid down in cortical layers prior to 20 weeks gestation, is a dynamic process from 30 to 40 weeks gestation.

It is during this time, the subplate, a transient population of neurons, guides the development of cortical and thalamocortical connections [8], maturing from its maximal prominence to almost complete regression.

Optimising preterm infant neurodevelopment is a key aim of neonatal research, which could substantially improve long-term outcomes and reduce the socio-economic impact of VPT birth.

This study has the potential to give insights into the mother-baby relationship and any positive effects of infant massage on neurodevelopment.

A randomised controlled trial to investigate the effect of massage therapy in VPT infants.

Sixty VPT infants, born at 28 to 32 weeks and 6 days gestational age, who are stable, off supplemental oxygen therapy and have normal cranial ultrasounds will be recruited and randomised to an intervention (infant massage) group or a control (standard care) group.

It is often combined with other forms of stimulation such as kinaesthetic stimulation (e.g.

passive extension/flexion movements of the arms and legs), talking or eye contact [16].

In recent years the focus of improving preterm outcomes has shifted from increasing survival to minimising morbidity and improving neurodevelopmental outcomes [1, 3].

Long term neurodevelopmental abnormalities impact up to 50 % of these infants [4] and include motor disability (including cerebral palsy), reduced cognitive performance and behavioural problems [3].

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