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Babies May Be Soothed by Massage

Baby Massage Might Help Infants Sleep Better, Cry Less, and Relax
WebMD Health News

Nov. 10, 2006 -- Massage may help infants relax, sleep better, and cry less, shows a study in The Cochrane Library.

The researchers included Angela Underdown, MSc, associate professor at the Institute of Education at England's University of Warwick.

They reviewed 23 studies on infant massage, mainly in newborns.

The reviewers note "some evidence of benefits on mother-infant interaction, sleeping and crying, and on hormones influencing stress levels" in massaged babies.

For instance, massaged babies had lower urine levels of certain stress hormones than babies that didn't get massage.

"Given the apparent effect of infant massage on stress hormones, it is not surprising to find some evidence of an effect on sleep and crying," Underdown says in a University of Warwick news release.

The studies varied in length and massage style. So it's not clear what type of baby massage or how many sessions work best.

Baby massage didn't affect infant growth and didn't appear harmful, the reviewers note.

Underdown and colleagues say their findings support infant massage, but they aren't ready to recommend massage for all babies.

The reviewers call for more studies on infant massage. Meanwhile, if you're interested in massage for your baby, talk to your doctor.

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