Effects of osteopathic treatment versus static touch on heart rate and oxygen saturation in premature babies: A randomized controlled trial.

Andrea Manzotti a,b,c, Francesco Cerritelli a, Erica Lombardi a,c, Simona La Rocca a,c, Marco Chiera a, Matteo Galli a,c, Gianluca Lista b

a RAISE Lab, Foundation COME Collaboration, Pescara, Italy
Division of Neonatology, “V. Buzzi” Children’s Hospital, ASST-FBF-Sacco, Milan, Italy
Research Department, SOMA, Istituto Osteopatia Milano Milan, Italy


Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) has been successfully tested in the context of preterm infants. No studies, however, have been conducted to investigate the OMT immediate effects on physiological measurements, such as partial oxygen saturation (SpO2) and heart rate (HR). The purpose of the present study was to assess the effect of osteopathic treatment on SpO2 and HR values and to compare it with 10 min of static touch.

Materials and methods
Ninety-six preterm infants (41 male), aged 33.5 weeks (±4.3) with mean weight at birth of 2067gr (±929) were recruited from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) of the Buzzi Hospital in Milan, and randomly allocated to two groups: OMT and Static Touch. Each protocol session consisted of: a) 5-min Pre-touch baseline recording, b) 10-min touch procedure, c) 5-min post-touch recording. Primary and secondary outcomes were, respectively, the baseline changes of HR and SpO2.

The 2 × 2 repeated measure ANOVA for HR showed a statistically significant effect (F (1,94) = 5.34; p < 0.02), revealing that the OMT group decreases the HR value at T2 (p = 0.006). In contrast, SpO2 analysis showed an increase of SpO2 value where the OMT group demonstrated higher values at T2 (p = 0.04).

Results from the present study suggest that a single osteopathic intervention may induce beneficial effects on preterm physiological parameters.

Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT03833635 – Date: February 7, 2019


Autonomic nervous system, Heart rate, Osteopathic manipulative treatment, Oxygen saturation, Preterm, Touch

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