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'Kangaroo care' offers developmental benefits for premature newborns
Date:7/10/2013

New research in the Journal of Newborns & Infant Nursing Reviews concludes that so-called "kangaroo care" (KC), the skin-to-skin and chest-to-chest touching between baby and mother, offers developmentally appropriate therapy for hospitalized preterm infants.

In the article, "Kangaroo Care as a Neonatal Therapy," Susan Ludington-Hoe, RN, CNM, PhD, FAAN, from Case Western Reserve University's Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, describes how KC delivers benefits beyond bonding and breastfeeding for a hospital's tiniest newborns.

"KC is now considered an essential therapy to promote growth and development of premature infants and their brain development," Ludington-Hoe reports.

But while KC's benefits are known, its use is not widely promoted by hospitals, she says.

Ludington-Hoe encourages hospitals to incorporate KC-type features by modifying neonatal intensive care units to make them calming places, positioning babies to promote physical and motor development, decreasing how much babies are handled to reduce their stress, improving wake-sleep cycles and promoting a newborn's ability to stabilize important functions, like its heartbeat and to synchronize physiologic functions with his mother's for optimal development.

Kangaroo Care for preemies involves the mother nestling the baby on her chest for at least one hour at a time and ideally for 22 hours a day for the first six weeks, and about eight hours a day for the next year.

Throughout Scandinavia and the Netherlands, KC is widely practiced, said the researcher. They practice 24/7 Kangaroo Care because mothers are told that they have to be their baby's place of care, and they make arrangements so that someone else watches children at home so that the infant is always in maternal or paternal KC while hospitalized. It continues at home where mothers wear wraps that securely contain the infant on her chest to prevent falling.

Ludington
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Contact: Susan Griffith
susan.griffith@case.edu
216-368-1004
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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