Kangaroo Care Soothes Newborns
Skin-to-Skin Contact With Mother Helps Newborns Adapt
WebMD News Archive
April 22, 2004 -- Giving newborn infants plenty of skin-to-skin
contact with their mothers shortly after birth may ease the stressful
transition from womb to world. A new study shows that such "kangaroo
care" measures may provide immediate and potentially lasting health
benefits for the baby.
Previous studies have shown that kangaroo care practices can
improve physical, mental, and emotional well-being among preterm infants, but
this is among the first studies to examine the effects of kangaroo care on
The study, published in the April issue of Pediatrics,
showed that infants who had an hour of skin-to-skin contact with their mothers
immediately after birth slept longer and more quietly and exhibited less
stressful movements hours later in the nursery.
Kangaroo Care Eases Newborn Transition
Researchers say the transition from the womb to the real world
is one of the most hazardous and stressful events in the human life cycle.
Therefore, interventions that can help a newborn feel more secure and
facilitate adaptation to their new surroundings would be useful.
In this study, researchers compared the effects of one hour of
skin-to-skin contact initiated within 15-20 minutes after birth versus a
standard care in 47 healthy mother-infant pairs. Infants and mothers were
randomly assigned to the kangaroo care or control group. Shortly after birth
all the infants were placed on their mother's chest for five to 10 minutes
while the umbilical cord was cut. The infants were later dried and dressed. The
control infants were taken back to the nursery while the infants in the
kangaroo care group were taken back to their mother. The infants were brought
to the hospital's nursery 75-80 (the kangaroo group) and 15-20 (control
infants) minutes after birth, respectively.
Four hours after birth, researchers observed the infants for an
hour and found that those who received kangaroo care slept longer, were mostly
in a quiet sleep state, and were in positions indicating less stress and
"The results of this study show [kangaroo care] may be
beneficial for term infants after delivery," write researcher Sari
Goldstein Ferber, PhD, of the University of Haifa, Israel, and colleagues.
"As noted by others, even in preterm infants, the skin-to-skin effect
persisted after contact itself was terminated and was apparent four hours
"Medical and nursing staff may be well advised to provide
this kind of care shortly after birth," conclude the researchers. They say
future studies should look at the issue of continuing kangaroo care during the
first few weeks of life and the possible effects on mother-infant interaction,
infant temperament, and attention-related skills during early life.