Energy expenditure in growing preterm infants receiving massage therapy

Sharon Lahat, Francis B. Mimouni, Gina Ashbel, Shaul Dollberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Massage therapy has been consistently shown to increase weight gain in preterm infants. The mechanism of this presumed improved metabolic efficiency is unknown. We conducted the following trial to test the hypothesis that massage therapy reduces energy expenditure in growing healthy preterm infants. Study Design: A prospective, randomized, cross-over design study was conducted in 10 healthy, appropriate weights for gestational age, gavage fed preterm infants. Each infant was studied twice: after a period of either 5 days of massage therapy, or after a period of 5 days without massage therapy. Infants were randomized to 5 days of massage followed by 5 days of no massage (n = 5) or the opposite sequence (n = 5). During the massage therapy period, massage was provided daily for three 15 minute periods at the beginning of each 3 hour period every morning. Metabolic measurements were performed by indirect calorimetry, using the Deltatrac II Metabolic cart. Results: Energy expenditure was significantly lower in infants after the 5 day massage therapy period (59.6 ± 3.6 Kcal/Kg/ 24 hours) than after the period without (63.1 ± 5.4 Kcal/Kg/ 24 hours) (p = 0.05). Conclusions: Energy expenditure is significantly lowered by 5 days of massage therapy in metabolically and thermally stable preterm infants. This decrease in energy expenditure may be in part responsible for the enhanced growth caused by massage therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-359
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the American College of Nutrition
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2007


  • Energy expenditure
  • Massage therapy
  • Preterm infants
  • Weight gain


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