Sixty-eight preterm infants (M GA = 30 weeks) were randomly assigned to a moderate or to a light pressure massage therapy group to receive 15 massages three times per day for 5 days. Behavior state, stress behaviors and heart rate were recorded for 15 min before and during the first 15-min therapy session. Weight gain was recorded over the 5-day therapy period. The moderate versus light pressure massage group gained significantly more weight per day. During the behavior observations the moderate versus light pressure massage group showed significantly lower increases from the pre-session to the session recording on: (1) active sleep; (2) fussing; (3) crying; (4) movement; and (5) stress behavior (hiccupping). They also showed a smaller decrease in deep sleep, a greater decrease in heart rate and a greater increase in vagal tone. Thus, the moderate pressure massage therapy group appeared to be more relaxed and less aroused than the light pressure massage group which may have contributed to the greater weight gain of the moderate pressure massage therapy group. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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