The Effect of Massage with Oils on the Growth of Term Infants: A Randomized Controlled Trial


Background and Aims: Infant massage could potentially benefit both physiological and psychological health. This study aims to determine the effect of massage with oils on the growth of full-term infants, which is given by their mothers. Study Design: This is a double-blind randomized controlled trial which was conducted on full term infants visited in the nine Public Health Centers of Shahrekord, Iran in 2010. Material and Methods: This study included 217 infants. Inclusion criteria for the infants were age scale between 10 to 15 days, full term gestation, birth weight of 2500 grams at least, Apgar score of 7 or above, no resuscitation after the birth, exclusive breastfeeding during the study, medically stable condition without any need for drugs, nulliparous. The infants were randomized into four groups: massage with sunflower oil, massage with sesame oil, massage without oil, and no massage (control group). Massage was given by mothers twice a day for 4 weeks, starting from the 10 - 15th day of life. Weight and height were measured weekly. At last, Repeated Measures Analysis of Covariance was employed to analyze the data. Birth weight (height) as well as mean frequency of breastfeeding during the study was deemed as covariates. Results: The findings showed that the mean of weight and height was significantly different between groups over time, respectively (P = 0.005, P < 0.001). The infants’ mean weight in sunflower oil massage group increased significantly compared with other three groups (P = 0.005). In addition, infants’ height gain in sunflower and sesame oil massage group were significantly higher than message-only and control groups (p < 0.001). Conclusions: Massage with oil, especially sunflower oil is an inexpensive, simple, and effective intervention which improved weight and height gain in selected samples. Further studies are needed to evaluate the serious adverse effects, if any, to notify midwives and health care staff.

Share and Cite:

Mirmohammadali, M. , Hosseini-Baharanchi, F. , Dehkordi, Z. , Bekhradi, R. and Delaram, M. (2015) The Effect of Massage with Oils on the Growth of Term Infants: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Open Journal of Pediatrics, 5, 223-231. doi: 10.4236/ojped.2015.53034.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Underdown, A., Barlow, J., Chung, V. and Stewart-Brown, S. (2006) Massage Intervention for Promoting Mental and Physical Health in Infants Aged under Six Months. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Cd005038.
[2] Bond, C. (2002) Positive Touch and Massage in the Neonatal Unit: A British Approach. Seminars in Neonatology, 7, 477-486.
[3] Field, T., Grizzle, N., Scafidi, F., Abrams, S., Richardson, S., Kuhn, C., et al. (1996) Massage Theraphy for Infants of Depressed Mothers. Infant Behavior and Development, 19, 107-112.
[4] Vincent, S. (2011) Skin-to-Skin Contact. Part Two: The Evidence. The Practising Midwife, 14, 44-46.
[5] Serrano, M.S.C., Doren, F.M. and Wilson, L. (2010) Teaching Chilean Mothers to Massage Their Full-Term Infants: Effects on Maternal Breast-Feeding and Infant Weight Gain at Age 2 and 4 Months. The Journal of Perinatal & Neonatal Nursing, 24, 172-181.
[6] Carter-Jessop, L. (1981) Promoting Maternal Attachment through Prenatal Intervention. MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing, 6, 107-112.
[7] Kulkarni, A., Kaushik, J.S., Gupta, P., Sharma, H. and Agrawal, R. (2010) Massage and Touch Therapy in Neonates: The Current Evidence. Indian Pediatrics, 47, 771-776.
[8] Field, T., Hernandez-Reif, M., Diego, M., Feijo, L., Vera, Y. and Gil, K. (2004) Massage Therapy by Parents Improves Early Growth and Development. Infant Behavior and Development, 27, 435-442.
[9] Vickers, A., Ohlsson, A., Lacy, J.B. and Horsley, A. (2000) Massage for Promoting Growth and Development of Preterm and/or Low Birth-Weight Infants. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Cd000390.
[10] Lee, H.-K. (2006) The Effects of Infant Massage on Weight, Height, and Mother-Infant Interaction. Journal of Korean Academy of Nursing, 36, 1331-1339.
[11] Darmstadt, G., Mao-Qiang, M., Chi, E., Saha, S., Ziboh, V., Black, R., et al. (2002) Impact of Topical Oils on the Skin Barrier: Possible Implications for Neonatal Health in Developing Countries. Acta Paediatrica, 91, 546-554.
[12] Darmstadt, G.L., Saha, S.K., Ahmed, A., Chowdhury, M., Law, P.A., Ahmed, S., et al. (2005) Effect of Topical Treatment with Skin Barrier-Enhancing Emollients on Nosocomial Infections in Preterm Infants in Bangladesh: A Randomised Controlled Trial. The Lancet, 365, 1039-1045.
[13] Blanken, R., Vilsteren, M., Tupker, R. and Coenraads, P. (1989) Effect of Mineral Oil and Linoleic-Acid-Containing Emulsions on the Skin Vapour Loss of Sodium-Lauryl-Sulphate-Induced Irritant Skin Reactions. Contact Dermatitis, 20, 93-97.
[14] Darmstadt, G.L., Badrawi, N., Law, P.A., Ahmed, S., Bashir, M., Iskander, I., et al. (2004) Topically Applied Sunflower Seed Oil Prevents Invasive Bacterial Infections in Preterm Infants in Egypt: A Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trial. The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, 23, 719-725.
[15] Edwards, W., Conner, J., Soll, R. and Network, V.O. (2001) The Effect of Aquaphor Original Emollient Ointment on Nosocomial Sepsis Rates and Skin Integrity in Infants of Birth Weight 501 to 1000 Grams. Pediatric Research, 49, 388-393.
[16] Nopper, A.J., Horii, K.A., Sookdeo-Drost, S., Wang, T.H., Mancini, A.J. and Lane, A.T. (1996) Topical Ointment Therapy Benefits Premature Infants. The Journal of Pediatrics, 128, 660-669.
[17] Field, T., Diego, M. and Hernandez-Reif, M. (2010) Preterm Infant Massage Therapy Research: A Review. Infant Behavior and Development, 33, 115-124.
[18] Agarwal, K., Gupta, A., Pushkarna, R., Bhargava, S., Faridi, M. and Prabhu, M. (2000) Effects of Massage & Use of Oil on Growth, Blood Flow & Sleep Pattern in Infants. The Indian Journal of Medical Research, 112, 212-217.
[19] Eichenfield, L.F., McCollum, A. and Msika, P. (2009) The Benefits of Sunflower Oleodistillate (SOD) in Pediatric Dermatology. Pediatric Dermatology, 26, 669-675.
[20] Badiee, Z., Samsamshariat, S. and Pourmorshed, P. (2011) Massage Therapy by Mother or Nurse: Effect on Weight Gain in Premature Infants. Journal of Isfahan Medical School, 29, 804-810.
[21] Roosbahani, N. and Narenji, F. (2008) Effect of Massage on Growth and Sleep Patern of Infants. Semnan University of Medical Sciences Journal, 4, 274-279.
[22] Diggle, P., Heagerty, P., Liang, K.-Y. and Zeger, S. (2002) Analysis of Longitudinal Data. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
[23] Burns, K., Cunningham, N., White-Traut, R., Silvestri, J. and Nelson, M.N. (1994) Infant Stimulation: Modification of an Intervention Based on Physiologic and Behavioral Cues. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing, 23, 581-589.
[24] Mainous, R.O. (2002) Infant Massage as a Component of Developmental Care: Past, Present, and Future. Holistic Nursing Practice, 17, 1-7.
[25] Darmstadt, G.L. and Saha, S.K. (2002) Traditional Practice of Oil Massage of Neonates in Bangladesh. Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition, 20, 184-188.
[26] Pabst, R.C., Starr, K.P., Qaiyumi, S., Schwalbe, R.S. and Gewolb, I.H. (1999) The Effect of Application of Aquaphor on Skin Condition, Fluid Requirements, and Bacterial Colonization in Very Low Birth Weight Infants. Journal of Perinatology: Official Journal of the California Perinatal Association, 19, 278-283.
[27] Baker, J.L., Michaelsen, K.F., Rasmussen, K.M. and Sorensen, T.I. (2004) Maternal Prepregnant Body Mass Index, Duration of Breastfeeding, and Timing of Complementary Food Introduction Are Associated with Infant Weight Gain. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 80, 1579-1588.
[28] Sankaranarayanan, K., Mondkar, J., Chauhan, M., Mascarenhas, B., Mainkar, A. and Salvi, R. (2005) Oil Massage in Neonates: An Open Randomized Controlled Study of Coconut versus Mineral Oil. Indian Pediatrics, 42, 877-884.
[29] Yilmaz, H.B. and Conk, Z. (2009) The Effect of Massage by Mothers on Growth in Healthy Full Term Infants. International Journal of Human Sciences, 6, 969-977.
[30] Arora, J., Kumar, A. and Ramji, S. (2005) Effect of Oil Massage on Growth and Neurobehavior in Very Low Birth Weight Preterm Neonates. Indian Pediatrics, 42, 1092-1100.
[31] Javadifar, N., Faal, S.S., Tadayon, M. and Dehdashtian, M. (2009) The Effect of Massage with Coconut Oil on Weight Gain in Preterm Neonate. Scientific Medical Journal, 2, 247-254.

Copyright © 2021 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.