Tactile-kinesthetic stimulation effects on sympathetic and adrenocortical function in preterm infants

Cynthia M. Kuhn, Saul M. Schanberg, Tiffany Field, Robert Symanski, Eugene Zimmerman, Frank Scafidi, Jackie Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


The purpose of our study was to investigate the neuroendocrine response in preterm infants to a pattern of tactile-kinesthetic stimulation that facilitates their growth and development. Preterm infants (mean gestational age 30 weeks, mean birth weight 1176 gm) received normal nursery care or tactile-kinesthetic stimulation for three 15-minute periods at the start of three consecutive hours each day for 10 days. On day 1 and day 10 of the study, a 24-hour urine sample was collected for norepinephrine, epinephrine, dopamine, cortisol, and creatinine assay and a blood sample was taken by heel stick for cortisol and growth hormone assay. Urine norepinephrine and epinephrine values increased significantly only in the stimulated babies. Urine dopamine and cortisol values increased in both groups, and serum growth hormone decreased in both groups. Individual differences in urine norepinephrine, epinephrine, dopamine, and cortisol values were highly stable across the 10 days despite a 10-fold range of values among the infants. The results of this study suggest that tactile-kinesthetic stimulation of preterm infants has fairly specific effects on maturation and/or activity of the sympathetic nervous system. In addition, this study has defined catecholamine and cortisol secretion across gestational age in normal preterm infants. Finally, these data suggest that highly stable individual levels of catecholamine and cortisol secretion are established by birth in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)434-440
Number of pages7
JournalThe Journal of Pediatrics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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