Background: Birth weight is one of the decisive factors in infant vulnerability and mortality. The impact of a full-body massage on the weight gain of preterm infants has been taken into account. Nevertheless, very few studies have been conducted on effects of abdominal massage. Hence, the current study was carried out to explore effects of abdominal massage on the weight gain of preterm infants hospitalized in neonatal intensive care units.
Materials and Methods: This study was a single-blind randomized controlled clinical trial, conducted on 64 preterm infants hospitalized in neonatal intensive care units in selected hospitals of Isfahan. They were randomly categorized into two groups, namely control and intervention. The pre-feeding weight of the infants in the groups was recorded daily. They were fed using an orogastric tube every two hours. One hour after the feeding, a researcher (with a master’s degree in Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing) gave abdominal massage to the infants in the intervention group twice a day, at 2.00 p.m. and 8.00 a.m., for 15 minutes, during a five-day period. However, the control group received the routine care in the unit. Data were analyzed using the SPSS software version 23.0, and analytical as well as descriptive statistical methods.
Results: Regarding their gender, 38 infants (59.3%) were male; the mean and standard deviation (SD) of weight gain during five days were more in the intervention group (1480.76±31.29) than in the control group (1365.83±41.93). This difference was statistically significant (p < 0.05).
According to the results of the present study, abdominal massage seems to improve weight gain in preterm infants and could be substituted for a full-body massage.