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Long recommended to improve health outcomes in infants, tummy time may have other positive health benefits, according to a new literature review.
Tummy time for infants has been recommended to improve motor development and reduce the likelihood of plagiocephaly. A new literature review in Pediatrics examines the link between tummy time and a variety of infant health outcomes.1
Investigators included peer-reviewed English-language articles that examined healthy infants who were aged 0 to 12 months. The studies included using an observation or experimental study design that had an objective or subjective measure of tummy time and examined the association with a health outcome, which included adiposity, motor development, psychosocial health, cognitive development, fitness, cardiometabolic health, or risks/harms.
They found 16 articles that included 4237 participants from 8 countries. A positive association with tummy time was seen with gross motor and total development along with a reduction in body mass index z score and the prevention of brachycephaly, as well as the ability to move while prone, supine, crawling, and rolling. There was an indeterminate association found for social and cognitive domains, plagiocephaly, walking, standing, and sitting. No link was found for communication and fine motor development.
Investigators did caution that most of the included studies lack the robust nature of a randomized control trial and selection as well as performance bias were present. They concluded that their findings should make assisting parents to meet physical activity guidelines a priority.
1. Hewitt L, Kerr E, Stanley RM, Okely AD. Tummy time and infant health outcomes: a systematic review. Pediatrics. 2020;145(5):e20192168. doi: 10.1542/peds.2019-2168