Massage therapy facilitates weight gain in preterm infants

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Studies from several labs have documented a 31 to 47% greater weight gain in preterm newborns receiving massage therapy (three 15-min sessions for 5 - 10 days) compared with standard medical treatment. Although the underlying mechanism for this relationship between massage therapy and weight gain has not yet been established, possibilities that have been explored in studies with both humans and rats include (a) increased protein systhesis, (b) increased vagal activity that releases food-absorption hormones like insulin and enhances gastric motility, and (c) decreased cortisol levels leading to increased oxytocin. In addition, functional magnetic resonance imaging studies are being conducted to assess the effects of touch therapy on brain development. Further behavioral, physiological, and genetic research is needed to understand these effects of massage therapy on growth and development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-54
Number of pages4
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2001


  • Massage therapy
  • Preterm infants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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