The effectiveness of massage therapy in the treatment of infantile colic symptoms: A randomized controlled trial

Med J Islam Repub Iran. 2016 Apr 9;30:351. eCollection 2016.


Background: Infantile colic, cry-fuss and sleep problems are transient in the initial months of life, but they contribute to maternal depression, parenting stress and family mental health problems. In this randomized clinical trial, we aimed to explore the efficacy of massage therapy compared to rocking in reducing infantile colic symptoms including duration and number of cries, sleep duration and severity of infant colic.

Methods: This was a single blind RCT study with a one-week follow-up. One hundred colicky infants aged younger than 12 weeks old were randomly assigned into massage and rocking groups. Infants in the massage group received a massage for 15-20 minutes once during a day and once at night before sleeping for a week. In the control group, mothers rocked their infants gently for 5-25 minutes when the symptoms of colic appeared. Parents recorded the details of the colic symptoms in a diary every day. A GEE approach was applied to explore the effect of the intervention.

Results: Efficiency of massage therapy was significantly higher than rocking. At the end of the study, the mean number of daily cries was 4.26±1.40 in the massage and 6.9±2.14 the rocking groups (p<0.01). The mean of the severity score was 1.39±0.19 less in the massage group (p<0.01). Moreover, the mean differences of massage and rocking groups were -0.82±0.20 hour (p<0.01) and 0.72±0.35 (p= 0.04) in the duration of cries and duration of sleep, respectively.

Conclusion: Massaging significantly improved colic symptoms during a one-week intervention for all outcomes. In addition, significant differences were found between the intervention and control groups in favor of massaging. Therefore, massage therapy is more effective than rocking for treating infant colic symptoms.

Keywords: Clinical Trial; Colic; Massage; Pediatrics.