Massage Soothes Babies Born with Birth Defects from Zika Virus

Mothers of babies born in Brazil with microcephaly are turning to alternative means of treatment for relief for their children, who are typically very sensitive to stimulus and are highly irritable. Microcephaly is a birth defect thought to be linked to the Zika virus.

A parental therapy group called Room to be a Mother is providing free workshops in which they teach natural techniques to soothe children. The techniques include a traditional Indian shantala massage for the babies, a sling that keeps the babies tightly held to their mother’s chest for comfort, and the use of a specially shaped bucket for warm baths meant to mimic the womb.

Therapist Rozely Fontoura says the massage therapy is particularly helpful for the babies, as it works by producing endorphins and reducing the stress hormone cortisol. “The production of endorphins and the reduction of cortisol helps a lot,” she says.

Daniele Santos, a mother whose son was born with microcephaly, says her son is much calmer now. “His crying after the massages and baths became less shrill,” she says.

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