Kangaroo care, also known as skin-to-skin care, may lower the risk of premature death when it comes to newborns with low birth weight, a new analysis suggests.
In the new analysis of previous researches – published December 22 in the journal Pediatrics – the researchers looked at 124 studies on the link between kangaroo mother care and how that benefited the health of newborns.
Low-birth-weight infants (who weighed less than 4.4 pounds or two kilograms) who received skin-to-skin care were 36 percent less likely of dying prematurely, compared with newborns at a low birth weight who did not receive the same care, according to the researchers. Moreover, the babies who received kangaroo mother care were 47 percent less likely to develop sepsis, than those who did not receive the same care from their parent. (Sepsis is an illness that occurs when the body has on overwhelmingly immune response to an infection.)
Dr. Grace Chan, co-author of the analysis and an instructor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said that skin-to-skin care or kangaroo mother care is a beneficial practice for mothers and newborns all over the world.
In 68 percent of the studies, kangaroo care was defined as prolonged skin-to-skin contact between the mother and the newborn. In thirteen percent of the 124 studies the authors defined kangaroo-style care as breast-feeding combined with regular skin-to-skin contact between newborns and their mothers.
In 25 of the studies form the analysis, doctors recommended 22 or more hours of skin-to-skin contact between the mother and the newborn per day, while in 66 percent of the studies doctors recommended less than four hours of skin-to-skin contact each day. The doctors from the remaining studies recommended four to 21 hours of daily skin-to-skin care.
The World Health Organisation suggested that to maximise the health of babies, continuous skin-to-skin contact should last for as much as possible each day. 22 hours is the most beneficial but quite difficult to do, so eight to twelve hours should be enough, according to Dr. Chan.
It is possible that kangaroo mother care is beneficial for newborns because the skin – which is not fully developed in babies born prematurely – acts as a barrier against infections, so the infant may be protect from such infections by staying in close contact with the mother, Dr. Chan said.
Image Source: 2.everyday-families