‘Kangaroo Mother Care’ Helps Babies Thrive


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So-called kangaroo mother care — which typically involves prolonged skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby, exclusive breast-feeding and quick discharge from the hospital — has many benefits for low-birth-weight infants, a new analysis has found.

Researchers reviewed 124 studies, each of which included a comparison group that did not receive kangaroo mother care, or K.M.C. All the studies included at least the skin-to-skin care component, and most were of babies weighing five-and-a-half pounds or less at birth. The review is in Pediatrics.

Kangaroo mother care did not significantly affect heart rate, the risk of breathing problems, weight gain or body length. But it was associated with a 47 percent lower risk of sepsis (blood infection), a 78 percent lower risk of hypothermia and an 88 percent lower risk of hypoglycemia. K.M.C. babies were significantly less likely to be readmitted to the hospital.

Over all, babies who weighed less than 4 pounds 4 ounces who had K.M.C. had a 36 percent lower risk of death.

“Our study found numerous benefits to newborn health in K.M.C., and no harms,” said the lead author, Ellen O. Boundy of the department of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “The most recent World Health Organization guidelines include K.M.C. in stabilized babies less than 4 pounds 4 ounces.” But despite the evidence, she said, use of K.M.C. remains low worldwide.



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