Grounding- Good For Premature Babies?

Human beings, for most of their existence, have had a strong bond with the ground that we stand on. It is this terrain, this earth, that has decided the fate of humanity in a sense, it has provided us the bounties that we now take for granted and it’s energy has endowed us the will to persist even in the hardest times. But most of the modern world has gradually moved away from it’s close relationship to the ground, our feet are covered in rubber or plastic sole shoes and we sleep at a precautionary distance from the ground. Ultimately, the solution is a simple one. One that is not driven by technology but complete simplicity- rekindling our relationship with the ground.

There is evidence that grounding results significant physiological shifts in the direction of a revitalized, invigorated and healthier functioning body − which is achieved simply by regularly walking barefoot outdoors or, while indoors, sleeping on a conductive bed sheet or sitting/working with your feet on a conductive floor mat connected to the Earth via a wire.

But could grounding have an effect on the health of a premature infant? A 2014 pilot study undertaken by the Pennsylvania State University Children’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Hershey certainly seems to suggest so! The study has reported immediate and significant improvements in measurements of autonomic nervous system which is critically important in the regulation of inflammatory and stress responses. More specifically, grounding the babies, clinically stable and from five to sixty days of age, strongly increased measures of heart rate variability (HRV) that indicated improved vagus nerve transmission. The vagus nerve, extending from the brainstem into the abdomen, is the main nerve of the parasympathetic division of the ANS. It’s offshoots supply and regulate key organs, including the lungs, heart, and intestines. HRV refers to beat-to-beat alterations in heart rate, and is influenced by the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the ANS.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly a half-million babies are born preterm annually, or 1 of every 8 infants. Preterm means a baby is born prior to 37 weeks of pregnancy. Preterm-related causes of death account for about 35 percent of all infant deaths, and more than any other single cause, and is also a leading contributor to long-term neurological disabilities in children. More research is obviously needed, however, before Earthing can be considered an additional treatment strategy for preterm babies by clinicians.

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