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



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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We thank the mothers and the newborns for having accepted to participate in the study, the physicians, nurses and nursing technicians from the NICU at the Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre for their attention, and the Fundo de Incentivo à Pesquisa of the Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre (FIPE) for the financial support. We thank Ceres Oliveira for her statistical assistance.

Source of support: Fundo de Incentivo à Pesquisa of the Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre (FIPE).

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Correspondence to R S Procianoy.

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Mendes, E., Procianoy, R. Massage therapy reduces hospital stay and occurrence of late-onset sepsis in very preterm neonates. J Perinatol 28, 815–820 (2008).

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