(ABC NEWS) – A new life brings joy, but for some, that joy comes a little earlier than expected and comes with the medical problems of prematurity.
Preemies — born before full term, often can’t be cradled in a parent’s arms. These delicate babies spend their time around the clock in intensive care units, with no opportunity to feel a caring touch.
Now, a new study suggests that the type of touch a preemie experiences can influence their long-term brain activity, and how they process all their senses.
Being born prematurely is often linked to decreased brain response to touch. Something that can continue even after the babies go home, likely tied to the extent of their brain development.
But this study also suggests that preemies that were cuddled or had skin to skin contact, supportive, caring caresses — elicited stronger brain responses than those who had more painful stimuli — medically needed needle sticks and procedures.
It would seem that supportive touch is essential to ensuring that these babies develop better socially and emotionally later in life.
That touch has a transformative power that can last a lifetime, especially for those who are the tiniest among us.