Project: Research project

Project Details


Growth failure and developmental delays are characteristic problems of very
premature neonates and nonorganic failure-to-thrive infants. Inadequate
stimulation has been implicated as a potential contributor to these
delays. Although attempts to stimulate growth and development have yielded
inconclusive data, research on maternally deprived rat pups suggested that
a specific pattern of tactile stimulation may be necessary for normal
mechanisms of growth and cellular developmental biochemistry. In a
preliminary study we have documented the positive effects of a similar type
of stimulation on the growth and behavior of preterm neonates. The purpose
of the present proposal is to investigate the effects of this
tactile/kinesthetic intervention on very premature neonates and nonorganic
failure-to-thrive infants, hoping to prevent and ameliorate growth and
developmental delays in these infants. In accord with the rat pup model
and to understand the underlying mechanisms whereby stimulation facilitates
growth, as well as behavioral and physiological organization, several
variables will be assessed including sleep-wake behavior and physiology,
activity level, growth curves, growth hormone, somatomedin C, cortisol and
catecholamines. The effects of tactile/kinesthetic stimulation on these
functions will be studied in a treatment/control group paradigm and a
repeated measures stimulation/no stimulation design. A comparison will
also be made between a tactile and a kinesthetic stimulation group, since
preliminary data suggest that these two forms of stimulation may have
different effects. Finally, follow-up assessments will be made to
determine any prolonged effects of this stimulation program on growth and
development. Based on our pilot data we hypothesize that our
tactile/kinesthetic intervention program will prevent growth failure and
developmental delays in both premature and nonorganic failure-to-thrive
infants. The stimulation will hopefully facilitate more organized
sleep-wake behavior, feeding behavior and weight gain. These developments
may lead to shorter hospitalization and shorter periods of separation from
parents with an associated significant reduction in hospital costs. The
greater growth and behavioral organization of the infants should failitate
early mother-infant interactions and improved performance on developmental
assessments which in turn can contribute to superior later development. If
this stimulation program is effective, it is sufficiently simple to
ultimately be incorporated into routine neonatal care, infant nursery and
parent training programs.
Effective start/end date2/15/861/31/91


  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Institutes of Health


  • Medicine(all)


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