Friday, February 17, 2012

Boosting Premi Babies Vision and Brain Development with Massage

I had my first kid born last week, Piper Cruz Ross.  She was 8.5 weeks early!  To say that it scared us, was a bit of an understatement.  She was born 4lb 9oz and 18" long.  We were very fortunate that her lungs were fully formed and she didn't need any external help with breathing.

Many of my friends that I have played sports with over the years, from rugby to bobsled have started to have kids and we have always joked about how we are going to train our newborns.  Resisted baby crawls, 1lb dumbell deadlifts, ect.  Don't worry we are just kidding. (I think!)  One thing I've always remembered though is a trainer by the name of Marv Marinovich talking about doing very gentle mobility work on the hamstrings.  Marv has some crazy ideas, but I think some have merit.  Why not pursue a few things that produce no harm?

Dealing with a premi, I started reading and looking into some things and came across this study.  Massage Accelerates Brain Development and Visual Acuity.    You can read the whole study there.

In it they looked at premi babies born between 30-35 weeks of gestation.  They had no other health problems.  3 sessions were done per day.  Each was around 10 min.  First was tactile stimulation, baby laid prone and light stroking was done with the pads of the fingers.  Head, back, buttocks, legs, calfs were done.  2nd was kinesthetic.  Baby was laid supine and flexion/extension was done with the arms and legs in sequence.

The results showed an increase in IGF-1 hormone.  This had direct effect on improvement of visual acuity.  EEG activity of brain function improved.  This was measured by the time from discontinuous to continuous activity.  Cortisol levels also showed a decrease.  Pretty impressive.

Results showed improvement at 3 months of age and started to level off at 7 months between those that received massage and control babies.  At 3 months of age this was 2 months after the massage sessions ended.

 One wonders what could happen if massage had continued, not only with premi's but with babies born on time.  As anyone that has a baby in NICCU knows, you spend a ton of time just sitting there.  This at least shows some promise of something concrete you can do with your baby as you sit there.  At best, you will help brain and vision development and at worse nothing but the development of a stronger bond.  Sounds like a win, win to me.


Dave Brelinski said...

ESPN aired a great documentary about Todd Marinovich, Marv's son, and he's was pretty much trained to be an athlete from birth. It was quite the story.

Interesting research you found. I wish your family the best.

Amy Scheer said...

Congrats on the birth, Dr. Ross!

drchirousa said...

Congratulations J to you and the Mrs!!! A book from my undergrad days that you might find interesting - Life Span Motor Development by Kathleen Haywood.

Roger and Melissa said...

Congrats to you and your family. Make sure that little one gets adjusted. Enjoy fatherhood!

Anonymous said...

Mazel Tov! Cute name. Sleep when she does. Really.

Diede School said...

Congratulations on having a healthy baby, despite of her being premature. You have stated some interesting facts here. Moms (and dads) should know that a massage is helpful to a child’s development. Massage develops a child’s bone strength. What is more beneficial is the touch connection your babies would feel every time you give them a massage is like a gesture saying that you love them. That is the first “I LOVE YOU” signal they can understand.