Risks and Costs of Preterm Birth

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, roughly 14% of infants in the United States are born prematurely. Premature births come with a number of risks and potential health issues. Prematurity is one of the most common causes of infant mortality.  Over $15 billion dollars in hospital costs can be attributed to preterm births every year. [i]

Benefits of Massage Therapy for Infants

Massage has been used as a parenting practice in many cultures for nearly the entirety of human civilization. For example, history shows that mothers in India have provided massage to their newborns as far back as 3000 BC. However, massage in Western culture is not nearly as common, only becoming more widely popular in the last few decades. Both preterm infants facing serious health problems and healthy full-term infants can reap the benefits of massage therapy.[ii]

Massage therapy has been shown to provide many benefits to infants, including the following:[iii], [iv]

  • Increased weight gain in preterm infants
  • Increased bone density
  • Reduced stress
  • Gas and constipation relief
  • Improve quality and length of sleep
  • Strengthen respiratory and digestive systems
  • Stimulate circulatory and nervous systems


Additional Infant Massage Research

There is a substantial body of research that documents the many benefits of infant massage. The following studies provide additional support to anyone considering the use of massage on their infant.

 Scafidi et al, 1990  Forty preterm infants were assigned to treatment and control groups. The treatment infants averaged a 21% greater weight gain per day and were discharged 5 days earlier.

Scafidi et al, 1993  Preterm infants were randomly assigned to a massage therapy or control group. The massage therapy infants gained significantly more weight per day than the control infants. Seventy percent of the massage therapy infants were classified as high weight gainers whereas only forty percent of the control infants were classified as high weight gainers.

Field et al, 2006  Sixty-eight preterm infants were randomly assigned to a moderate or a light pressure massage therapy group to receive 15 massages three times per day for 5 days. Behavior state, stress behaviors, and heart rate were recorded for 15 min before and during the first 15-min therapy session. Weight gain was recorded over the 5-day therapy period. The moderate versus light pressure massage group gained significantly more weight per day.  The moderate pressure massage therapy group appeared to be more relaxed and less aroused than the light pressure massage group which may have contributed to the greater weight gain of the moderate pressure massage therapy group.[v]



[i] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2844909/

[ii] http://www.massagetoday.com/mpacms/mt/article.php?id=13762

[iii] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2844909/

[iv] http://www.massagetoday.com/mpacms/mt/article.php?id=13762

[v] Field, T., Diego, M., Hernandez-Reif, M., Deeds, O., Figueiredo, B. & Ascencio, A. (2006). Moderate Versus Light Pressure Massage Therapy Leads to Greater Weight Gain in Preterm Infants. Infant Behavior and Development, 29, 574-578. 


Irene’s Myomassology Institute is a nationally accredited massage therapy school located in Southfield, Michigan.  Scholarships and Financial Aid are available for qualified students to help them pay school tuition.  Our students graduate with a state license prepared for a successful career as a massage therapist.  Irene’s lifetime job placement services maintains an abundance of massage career opportunities for our alumni.  Irene’s student massage clinic provides affordable massage to the public with discounted prices for seniors and veterans. Irene’s massage supply store equips massage therapists with the necessities to manage a successful career.