Impact of infantile massage on brain development

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


While during intrauterine life the fetus is protected by noxius external stimuli and benefits from positive physiological stimulations such as the continuous and gentle tactile stimulation deriving from the movements inside the womb, birth exposes the fetus to a completely new and potentially stressful environment. To minimize the consequences of preterm birth it is of utmost importance to take the highest advantage of enhanced early brain plasticity by devising evidence-based intervention programs centered on the optimization of the infant's environment. Massage therapy was introduced in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) primarily with the aim of improving weight gain, in particular in low birth-weight subjects during their hospital admission and, as a consequence, to obtain an earlier hospital discharge. The relatively low spectral power in preterm infants at term has been interpreted as the effect of a functional alteration in brain development related to the untimely exposure to the extra-uterine environment.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnvironmental Experience and Plasticity of the Developing Brain
PublisherWiley Blackwell
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781118931684
ISBN (Print)9781118931653
Publication statusPublished - Mar 5 2016


  • Brain development
  • Brain plasticity
  • Massage therapy
  • Neonatal intensive care unit
  • Preterm infants
  • Stressful environment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)


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