Massage therapy reduces hospital stay and occurrence of late-onset sepsis in very preterm neonates

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To study the effect of maternal massage therapy on hospital stay in very-low-birth-weight infants who were already submitted to skin-to-skin care.

Study Design:

A randomized study was performed including infants of birth weight ≥ 750 and ≤ 1500 g and gestational age ≤ 32 weeks. The exclusion criteria were as follows: death before completing 48 h and presence of major malformations. Neonates were divided into intervention group (IG) (standard care plus maternal massage) and control group (CG). Anthropometric data were always verified by a person blind to the group to which the newborn belonged. Maternal massage was performed four times a day on the face and limbs. Passive exercises of upper and lower limbs were also done by the mothers.


A total of 104 newborns were included, 52 in each group. Both groups were similar in gestational age (IG: 29.7 ± 1.6; CG: 29.4 ± 1.6 weeks), birth weight (IG: 1186 ± 194; CG: 1156 ± 198 g), gender, number of small-for-gestational-age infants, SNAPPE-II, deaths, gains in weight, length and head circumference. Incidence of late-onset sepsis was significantly lower in the intervention group (IG: 10.8%, n = 5; CG: 38.3%, n = 18; P = 0.005). IG was discharged from the hospital 7 days before CG (IG: 42, confidence interval (CI) 95%: 38 to 46; CG: 49, CI 95%: 42 to 56), and presented 1.85 hazard ratio (CI 95%: 1.09 to 3.13; P = 0.023) for early discharge.


Maternal massage therapy in very-low-birth-weight infants decreases the length of hospital stay and the incidence of late-onset neonatal sepsis.

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