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D. That Magic, Parental Touch

Narrator: This is Science Today. A six-year study has found that low birth weight babies are greatly affected by parental touch. Sandra Weiss, a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco says because their brains are often not yet fully developed, low birth weight babies are very vulnerable to tactile and sensory stimulation.

Weiss: So what we've been looking at is whether or not the kinds of touch the parents use in the ongoing care of the babies at home may either positively or negatively influence a number of different outcomes.

Narrator: They found that a nurturing touch greatly helped healthier low birth weight babies developmentally and cognitively. But in the sicker babies, too much touch had the opposite effect.

Weiss: This really supports current thinking about why babies in the neo-natal intensive care units are often protected from too much touch. But on the other hand, we can provide very important types of touch developmentally, but just do it in moderation and these babies are going to benefit tremendously from touch.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.