From Fingertips to Heartstrings: Embracing the Power of Touch

Skin-to-skin contact was particularly beneficial in premature children; women responded more strongly than men. It helps in the healthy growth of both; the Baby and the Mother.


A hug, a handshake, or a therapeutic massage means everything is going perfectly while a newborn is lying on his mother’s bare chest.


According to a large new analysis published in Nature Human Behavior, physical touch can improve well-being and reduce pain, depression, or anxiety.

Researchers from Germany and the Netherlands have systematically examined years of research on touches, strokes, hugs, and rubs. They’ve also combined data from 137 studies involving almost 13,000 adults, children, and infants. By comparing each study of Individuals individuals who were not touched were found to be in better conditions and mentally strong conditions.

Frédéric Michon, a researcher at the Netherlands Institute of Neurobiology and one of the study’s authors, said that positive effects were especially pronounced in premature infants who had significantly improved interaction with skin.

Rebecca Boehme, a neuroscientist at Linkoping University in Sweden, who reviewed the study for the journal, said, “There’s a lot of talk about touch being good, touch being healthy, touch being something we all need.” “But from this broad bird’s eye perspective, no one looked at it.”

Some interesting, sometimes mysterious patterns were revealed in the analysis. Among adults, diseased people showed better mental health improvement from touch than healthy people observed irrespective of touching the person either a family person or health care worker – didn’t matter. But for a newborn, the source of the touch mattered.

Ville Harjunen, a researcher at the University of Helsinki in Finland, who also reviewed the study in the journal, said, “One very interesting finding that needs further support is that infants benefit more from their parents’ touch than from strangers’ touch.” He suggested that the preference of children for their parents might have something to do with their smell, or with the way they are held by their parents.

In addition, the team found that touch was beneficial for both healthy and ill people, although the effects were more pronounced for mental health benefits. However, the type of touch and duration were not important even if there was an increased frequency associated with greater benefits for adults. In addition, touch of the head has been shown to have a higher health benefit than touches on another part of the body.

Dr. Michon says that touch seems to be more of a benefit for women compared with men, which may have cultural consequences. The frequency of touch was also important: a massage once every two years wouldn’t do much good.

What happened during the height of the Coven pandemic, where people were separated from each other and not physically involved with others, was examined in several studies listed in this review. “They found correlations during Covid times between touch deprivation and health aspects like depression and anxiety,” Dr. Michon said.

Some studies have shown that touch of the head has more beneficial effects in comparison to contact with the body’s torso.Touch2

In 2023, Jeeva Sankar, a pediatrics researcher at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, and a colleague published a rigorous review of skin-to-skin care for newborns. The analysis found that touch therapy for premature or low birth weight infants should be started as soon as possible and lasted no more than eight hours, which was recommended by the World Health Organization. Dr. Sankar stated that the new review was important because, in modern medicine, touch is rarely taken into account but it’s got to be much more extensive.

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