Three of the most popular types of stimulation in the NICU (nonnutritive sucking, kangaroo care, and massage therapy) have been researched increasingly over the past few decades. Results suggest that preterm neonates benefit not only from the soothing, calming properties of these forms of simulation, but they conserve energy, can be pacified during painful procedures, and can demonstrate growth gains following this stimulation. These forms of simulation may have a common underlying mechanism that involves enhancement of vagal activity, associated slowing of the infant's physiology, and an increase in the release of food absorption hormones. Further research is needed to establish underlying mechanisms, particularly because such practices rarely are established in NICUs until the underlying mechanisms are understood. In the interim, the data are sufficiently compelling to educate parents about the efficacy of these forms of stimulation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health