A new meta-analysis published in the journal Pediatrics on December 23rd found that low-birth-weight newborns benefit from kangaroo mother care. Kangaroo mother care is defined as the prolonged skin-to-skin contact between the mother and her newborn.
Kangaroo mother care reduces the rate of mortality with low-birth-weight newborns by substantial percentage points. Both the mother and the newborn benefit greatly from skin-to-skin contact for a period following birth. According to lead researcher Ellen O. Boundy with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, kangaroo mother care reduces the risk of hypoglycemia, hypothermia or neonatal sepsis with the newborn. At the same time, the skin-to-skin contact method of care reduces the rate of hospital readmission with low-birth-weight babies.
Another benefit stemming from kangaroo mother care is the exclusive breast-feeding. Previous research has shown the multiple benefits of breastfeeding both for the newborn and the mother. According to the World Health Organization, four million newborns die yearly following the first four weeks after birth. One of the Millennium Development Goals aims to fight the high numbers of child mortality. Despite the fact that progress was registered under the 4th Millennium Development Goal, more needs to be achieved.
Neonatal morbidity may be hampered by easily at hand ‘treatments’ such as kangaroo mother care. Low-birth-weight newborns benefit from kangaroo mother care, a technique introduced in 1978 in Bogota, Colombia. This alternative to the incubators has since been observed and found to bear a host of benefits. According to the authors of the newly published meta-analysis, kangaroo mother care is defined in four steps by the World Health Organization.
The four components of the kangaroo mother care are early skin-to-skin contact, continuous, as well as prolonged, and exclusive breastfeeding. Neonatal parameters are greatly improved for newborns which benefit from kangaroo mother care.
The meta-analysis included 124 studies reviewed for skin-to-skin contact benefits analysis. The results suggest that among the benefits of kangaroo mother care, a significant decrease in the risk of sepsis was registered (by 47 percent lower). In addition, newborns benefiting from skin-to-skin contact had a 78 percent decrease in hypothermia risk as well as 88 percent lower chances of hypoglycemia.
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