published July 27th, 1998
By Tammerlin Drummond
Huddled in a plexiglas incubator, 3 1/2-lb. Andreah Moran is, at nine days, so fragile that she looks as if her twig-thin arms and legs would snap from one false move. But gingerly navigating the tangle of blue electrodes attached to the infant’s chest, John Dieter, a researcher at the University of Miami’s Touch Research Institute, firmly massages those arms and legs and rubs Andreah’s back and her tiny head. The baby sighs, parts her withered lips and begins a slow drool.
Infant massage? It sounds more like a New Age ritual than an internationally recognized alternative therapy. But studies at the Touch Research Institute have found that preemies massaged three times a day for as few as five days consistently fare better than equally frail babies who don’t get massages. Full-term infants and older babies also benefit from them. The International Association of Infant Massage, which held its annual conference last month in Orlando, Fla., estimates that 10,000 parents took infant-massage training last year. New converts say it helps their babies sleep better, relieves colic and helps hyperactive children relax.
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