Saturday, February 27, 2010

Infant Massage and Preemie Brain Development

Among the often-heard benefits of infant massage is its special benefits for preterm infants. But what does the research say about infant massage for preemies? For the first time, body massage has been shown to affect brain development in human infants, and tactile stimulation has been shown to influence visual development in these babies. A study published in the May 2009 Journal of Neuroscience finds that massage accelerates brain development and the maturation of visual functioning in preterm babies. The research team, working with a cohort of preterm Italian infants with a gestational age between 30 and 33 weeks, found that EEG maturation, as well as visual system development, was accelerated in the massaged infants, compared to their non-massaged control group. Larger studies will be needed to replicate these findings.