To assess the effect of massage on weight gain and body fat deposition in preterm infants.
Preterm infants (29–32 wk) were randomized to Massage (n=22, 12F/10M) or Control (n=22, 12F/10M). Treatment was masked with Massage or Control administered twice-daily by licensed massage therapists (6 d/wk for 4 wk). Body weight (g), length (cm), ponderal index (PI g/cm3), body circumferences (cm), skinfold thickness (triceps TSF, mid-thigh MTSF, and subscapular SSF; mm) were measured. Circulating IGF-1, leptin, and adiponectin were determined by ELISA. Daily dietary intake was collected.
Energy and protein intake as well as increase in weight (g/kg/d), length, and body circumferences were similar. Massage male infants had smaller PI, TSF, MTSF, and SSF, and increases over time than Control male infants (p<0.05). Massage female infants had larger SSF increase than Control females (p<0.05). Circulating adiponectin increased over time in Control male infants (group X time X sex interaction, p<0.01) and was correlated to PI (r=0.39, p<0.01).
Twice daily massage did not promote greater weight gain in preterm infants. Massage did, however, limit body fat deposition in male preterm infants. Massage decreased circulating adiponectin over time in male infants with higher adiponectin concentrations associated with increased body fat. These findings suggest that massage may improve body fat deposition, and in turn growth quality, of preterm infants in a sex-specific manner.