Holding Low Birth Weight Newborns Skin-To-Skin Reduces Mortality Rates
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Every year nearly 41 percent of all under-age-5 child deaths are among newborn infants, babies in their first 28 days of life or the neonatal period, according to the World Health Organization. A study in the January 2016 issue of Pediatrics suggests an effective but underutilized intervention known as “Kangaroo Mother Care” can reduce infant deaths by more than one-third compared to conventional care.
Kangaroo care involves early, continuous, prolonged skin-to-skin contact between the newborn and mother. It’s believed to help regulate the infant’s temperature and breathing rate.
The study analyzed 124 research studies published between 2000 and 2014. It found that among newborns weighing less than 2,000 grams (4.4 pounds) who survived to receive kangaroo care, there was a 36 percent reduction in mortality and a 47 percent lower risk of sepsis or major infection.
Newborns who received kangaroo care also had:
- Higher oxygen levels and head circumference growth.
- Lower pain measures.
- Increased likelihood of exclusive breastfeeding at hospital discharge by 50 percent, which the authors said provides additional protective health benefits.
The researchers said while kangaroo or skin-to-skin infant care is particularly useful for low birth weight babies born where equipment such as incubators are scarce, the practice is beneficial for all newborns and mothers.