The journal of Pediatrics
Thirty-two children with asthma (16 4- to 8-year-olds and 16 9- to 14-year-olds) were randomly assigned to receive either massage therapy or relaxation therapy. The children's parents were taught to provide one therapy or the other for 20 minutes before bedtime each night for 30 days. The younger children who received massage therapy showed an immediate decrease in behavioral anxiety and cortisol levels after massage. Also, their attitude toward asthma and their peak air flow and other pulmonary functions improved over the course of the study. The older children who received massage therapy reported lower anxiety after the massage. Their attitude toward asthma also improved over the study, but only one measure of pulmonary function (forced expiratory flow 25% to 75%) improved. The reason for the smaller therapeutic benefit in the older children is unknown; however, it appears that daily massage improves airway caliber and control of asthma. (J Pediatr 1998;132:854-8)
Data are reviewed on the effects of massage therapy on infants and children with various medical conditions. The infants include: premature infants, cocaine-exposed infants, HIV-exposed infants, infants parented by depressed mothers, and full-term infants without medical problems. The childhood conditions include: abuse (sexual and physical), asthma, autism, burns, cancer, developmental delays, dermatitis (psoriasis), diabetes, eating disorders (bulimia), juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, posttraumatic stress disorder, and psychiatric problems. Generally, the massage therapy has resulted in lower anxiety and stress hormones and improved clinical course. Having grandparent volunteers and parents give the therapy enhances their own wellness and provides a cost-effective treatment for the children. J Dev Behav Pediatr 16:105-111. 1994. Index terms: infant massage, massage therapy.