Comparative Effect of Massage Therapy versus Kangaroo Mother Care on Physiological Responses, Chest Expansion and Body Weight in Low Birthweight Preterm Infants

Priyasingh Bhagirathsingh Rangey, Megha Sandeep Sheth


Massage therapy (MT) and Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) are both effective in increasing the weight of low birthweight preterm infants. However no comparisons have been made until now between the two.

Purpose: The aim of this study was to compare the effectiveness of MT and KMC on body weight, physiological responses and chest expansion of low birthweight preterm (LBWPT) infants.

Method: Using convenience sampling, 20 LBWPT infants from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of VS Hospital were randomly divided into 2 groups of 10 each. Group 1 received MT and Group 2 received KMC for 15 minutes, thrice daily for 5 days. Medically stable babies with gestational age <37 weeks and birth weight <2500g were included. Those on ventilators and with congenital, orthopaedic or genetic abnormality were excluded. Outcome measures including body weight, physiological responses (heart rate, respiratory rate and body temperature) and chest expansion were taken pre-intervention on day 1 and post-intervention on day 5. Level of significance was kept at 5%.

Results: Data were analysed using SPSS version 16. Both MT and KMC were found to be effective in improving body weight (p=0.005, p=0.007), decreasing heart rate (p=0.005, p=0.004), respiratory rate (p=0.018, p=0.004) and body temperature (p=0.005, p=0.007), and improving chest expansion (p=0.026, p=0.014). However, while both were found to be equally effective for body weight (p=0.341), heart rate (p=0.22), respiratory rate (p=0.969) and chest expansion (p=0.331), MT was found to be better than KMC in decreasing body temperature (p=0.003).

Conclusion: MT and KMC were both found to be equally effective, though MT appeared better at decreasing body temperature.

Limitations: Factors that may affect the physiological responses and body weight were not monitored.

­­Implications: Massage Therapy and Kangaroo Mother Care can be used in the community for weight gain, improvement of chest expansion and regularisation of physiological responses among preterm infants.


Neonatal intensive care unit; heart rate; respiratory rate; body temperature

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