Did you know massage can improve overall development, motor development, visual-motor coordination, and language in infants with Down syndrome?

Down Syndrome is the most common condition that involves a developmental or intellectual disability.  The disabilities may include alterations in development, behavior, motor, language, cognition and social development.  Many studies have examined the effects of massage on premature infants, but few studies have looked at the effects of massage on the development of infants with Down Syndrome.

Using a randomized controlled clinical trial, Pinero-Pinto et al evaluated the effects of massage performed by parents on the development of the infant with Down Syndrome.  The sample consisted of 32 infants aged 4-8 months, attending an early intervention center, receiving physiotherapy and speech therapy.  Infants with underlying pathologies such as heart, kidney or digestive issues were excluded.  Infants were randomly assigned to intervention and control groups, with the intervention group receiving parent massage.  All infants in the study continued to attend the early intervention center and receive all previous therapies.  Global development was measured before and after the study, using the Brunet-Lezine Early Childhood Psychomotor Development scale to follow areas of motor development, visual-motor coordination, language, and sociability. During the 5-week study, participants’ parents received a massage class once a week led by a physical therapist, with time to practice skills during the class.  Parents then performed moderate pressure massage for 10 minutes daily using almond oil.

Results showed a statistically significant change in global developmental age, motor developmental age, visual-motor coordination age, and language developmental age before and after the study.  Authors suggested the touch, eye contact, communication, and parental bonding time present during massage promoted change in development.  Because the study found that massage was statistically important to development, all infants who were in the control group also went through the massage class and daily massage practice after the study was completed in order to give them the positive impact on development as well.

We know that massage reduces length of stay, improves sleep, improves weight gain and feeding success in premature and term infants, but with this study, we can also see the overall developmental gains in infants with Down Syndrome.  The power of touch is so amazing!  Are you ready to learn how to impact infants and families with your touch & massage?  Learn more about Neonatal Touch and Massage Certification here

Pinero-Pinto, E., Benitez-Lugo, M., Chillon-Martinez, R., Rebollo-Salas, M., Bellido-Fernandez, L., Jimenez-Rejano, J. (2020). Effects of Massage Therapy on the Development of Babies Born with Down Syndrome. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Doi 10.1155/2020/4912625.