This narrative review on pediatric massage literature from the last decade suggests that massage therapy has positive effects on several pediatric conditions. These include preterm infant growth, psychological problems including aggression, gastrointestinal problems including constipation and diarrhea, painful conditions including burns and sickle cell, muscle tone disorders including cerebral palsy and Down syndrome, and chronic illnesses including diabetes, asthma cancer, and HIV. Potential underlying mechanisms for the massage therapy effects include increased vagal activity and decreased stress hormones. Limitations of the literature include the need for more randomized controlled trials, longitudinal studies, and underlying mechanism studies.
Keywords: adolescent massage; child massage; infant massage; pediatric massage therapy.