Osteopathy for Premature Babies

photo of premature baby in humidicrib

In our practice, we constantly see examples of babies that benefit enormously from osteopathic care. This has been reflected in some recent studies undertaken in Italian neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) where premature infants have received osteopathic care and been compared to groups that have not.

In a 2011 research study, the progress of 350 premature babies without major complications was followed. All received standard care in a NICU and 162 also received osteopathic evaluation and treatment. The infant’s entire body was evaluated and the treatment duration ranged between 20-30 minutes, using indirect and fluidic osteopathic techniques. Those babies receiving osteopathy were much less likely to have a prolonged stay in the hospital, and showed a significant reduction in the amount of gastric events like vomiting/regurgitation, reflux and need for an enema (for constipation). Osteopathy had a very positive effect on the comfort and wellbeing of these infants.

These results were seen again in a 2013 study of 110 infants, and in another 2015 study of 690 infants across 3 separate intensive care units, which showed a significant reduction in the length of stay in hospital for those infants receiving osteopathic treatment.

These results come as no surprise to us, as this is the very same form of osteopathy myself and Dr Belinda Coulton have each practiced and taught for approximately 25 years. Often we see infants with musculoskeletal strains in their necks and spines which benefit from osteopathic management.

When these strains improve we often observe other effects which include less stomach upsets, they are more relaxed, seem more comfortable and in less pain and display better mobility; but these are our clinical observations and are not currently supported by research. We consider osteopathy a way of helping the babies and children we care for reach their full potential and be happier and healthier.

Welcome to the future!

*We recognise that further research needs to be undertaken to demonstrate other benefits of osteopathy in the treatment of infants and young children.

If You Have Any Concerns About Your Baby, Please Give Us A Call Or Book An Appointment


Cerritelli, F., Pizzolorusso, G., Ciardelli, F., La Mola, E., Cozzolino, V., Renzetti, C., D’Incecco, C., Fusilli, P., Sabatino, G., & Barlafante, G. (2013). Effect of osteopathic manipulative treatment on length of stay in a population of preterm infants: a randomized controlled trial. BMC Pediatrics, 13(1), 65. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2431-13-65 
Cerritelli, F., Pizzolorusso, G., Renzetti, C., Cozzolino, V., D’Orazio, M., Lupacchini, M., Marinelli, B., Accorsi, A., Lucci, C., Lancellotti, J., Ballabio, S., Castelli, C., Molteni, D., Besana, R., Tubaldi, L., Perri, F. P., Fusilli, P., D’Incecco, C., & Barlafante, G. (2015). A Multicenter, Randomized, Controlled Trial of Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment on Preterms. PLoS ONE, 10(5), e0127370. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0127370
Pizzolorusso, G., Turi, P., Barlafante, G., Cerritelli, F., Renzetti, C., Cozzolino, V., D’Orazio, M., Fusilli, P., Carinci, F., & D’Incecco, C. (2011). Effect of osteopathic manipulative treatment on gastrointestinal function and length of stay of preterm infants: an exploratory study. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies, 19(1), 15. https://doi.org/10.1186/2045-709X-19-15 


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