Tactile/kinesthetic stimulation was given to 20 preterm neonates (mean gestational age, 31 weeks; mean birth weight, 1,280 g; mean time in neonatal intensive care unit, 20 days) during transitional ("grower") nursery care, and their growth, sleep-wake behavior, and Brazelton scale performance was compared with a group of 20 control neonates. The tactile/kinesthetic stimulation consisted of body stroking and passive movements of the limbs for three, 15-minute periods per day for a 10 days. The stimulated neonates averaged a 47% greater weight gain per day (mean 25 g v 17 g), were more active and alert during sleep/wake behavior observations, and showed more mature habituation, orientation, motor, and range of state behavior on the Brazelton scale than control infants. Finally, their hospital stay was 6 days shorter, yielding a cost savings of approximately $3,000 per infant. These data suggest that tactile/kinesthetic stimulation may be a cost effective way of facilitating growth and behavioral organization even in very small preterm neonates.

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