The effects of preterm infant massage on brain electrical activity

Andrea Guzzetta, Maria G. D'Acunto, Marco Carotenuto, Nicoletta Berardi, Ada Bancale, Enrico Biagioni, Antonio Boldrini, Paolo Ghirri, Lamberto Maffei, Giovanni Cioni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim Early intervention programmes based on the manipulation of the extra-uterine environment have been used in preterm infants with the aim of improving development and functional outcome. Infant massage, among them, has proved effective for weight gain and reduced length of stay in the neonatal intensive care unit. We have recently shown that infant massage accelerates brain maturation of low-risk preterm infants without brain abnormalities as measured by global parameters of electroencephalography (EEG) activity. In the present study we further analyse the same cohort of preterm infants, testing the hypothesis that massage determines changes in EEG spectral activity, a highly sensitive index of brain maturation. Method Infants were randomly allocated to a massage or comparison group. Intervention consisted of standard care only (comparison group) or standard care plus infant massage (massage group). Massage was started at around 10days after birth and was provided for 12days during a 2-week period. EEG was performed at around 1 and 4weeks, i.e. before and after intervention. Spectral EEG analysis was performed on 80seconds of active sleep, applying the fast Fourier transform on the signal obtained from eight monopolar derivations. Results The modification in global EEG spectral power between the two assessments was significantly different for the two groups, especially for the delta band activity; the spectral power did not change in massaged infants although, not surprisingly, it decreased significantly in the comparison group, as shown by previous studies. Interpretation We propose that massage intervention affects the maturation of brain electrical activity and favours a process more similar to that observed in utero in term infants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-51
Number of pages6
JournalDevelopmental Medicine and Child Neurology
Issue numberSUPPL.4
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'The effects of preterm infant massage on brain electrical activity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this