Maternal Tactile Stimulation and the Neurodevelopment of Low Birth Weight Infants


Box 0608, Department of Community Health Systems, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143-0608. E-mail:


The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship of early maternal touch to the neurodevelopmental status of low birth weight (LBW) infants. One hundred and eight LBW infants and their mothers were videotaped during a typical feeding when the infant was 3 months old. This tape was used to analyze both the mother's touch and other facets of caregiving behavior using standardized coding systems. Data on perinatal medical risk were also acquired through chart review, and neurodevelopmental tests were administered to the infants at age 1 year. Results indicate that infants whose mothers used more stimulating touch during caregiving had better visual-motor skills at 1 year of age. In addition, infants of mothers who touched them frequently had more advanced gross motor development. Findings suggest that stimulating and frequent touch may help to compensate for early neurosensory deficits and promote neurodevelopment for LBW infants. Infant birth weight made the strongest contribution to all measures of infant neurodevelopmental status at age 1 year.