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The Benefits of Kangaroo Care for Premature Babies: New Research Shows the Importance of Skin-to-Skin Contact

Back to work immediately after giving birth? If your baby was born prematurely, it is better not to do that. Skin-to-skin contact is extremely important to reduce the risk of the baby’s death, according to new research. This also greatly reduces the risk of infections.

It is also called pouching or kangarooing: the mother then carries her baby close to her for hours, so that there is always physical contact. With this method you could start as early as 24 hours after birth. The intention is to carry the baby on the chest for at least eight hours a day. According to the researchers, the beneficial effect is then greatest. The pouching is usually done by the mother, but can also be performed by someone else. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the method as standard for children with a low birth weight, after the child has been brought into a medically stable condition.

Nice long pouch
But until now, many details about the kangaroo method were still unknown. What is the best time to start pouching? How many hours per day is optimal? And just how great are the health benefits? To answer these questions, a group of Indian researchers a study conducted using data from 31 studies with a total of more than 15,000 babies from many different countries. The trials were not all equal in design. Some compared the kangaroo method to conventional care, others looked at an early start or a later start with pouching.

Third less chance of death
Nevertheless, the researchers managed to compare the studies with each other. And the results were remarkable: the chance of dying in the first 28 days after birth is reduced by no less than 32 percent by kangaroo. The risk of infections, such as sepsis, drops by 15 percent. A reduction in the number of deaths has been observed in all studies using the pouch technique. No matter how many weeks the babies were born prematurely and what the birth weight was. But the different starting times and places where the method took place – in the hospital or elsewhere – also correlated with positive health outcomes.

The best result was obtained if the baby was carried on the chest for at least eight hours. The following applies: the longer, the better. It is also better to start as soon as possible, preferably within 24 hours after birth, and to keep it up for at least 28 days. Then a baby has the best chance of survival.

Small caveats
The scientists do mention a few caveats. For example, it is not a double-blind study: the participants obviously know that they are applying the kangaroo method. That could cause a bias. Extremely premature babies and children with a very low birth weight were also excluded from the study. Nevertheless, the researchers emphasize that they were all well-conducted studies and that a great deal of data was also combined.

“Our findings confirm that the kangaroo method is an effective way to greatly reduce the health risks of premature and underweight babies. It is important to start as early as possible and to continue as long as possible,” the researchers write.

Follow-up research
Future research should focus on ways to encourage parents to implement the method. “It is crucial that follow-up research focuses on removing barriers to the large-scale rollout of the kangaroo method, so that the method is stimulated and implemented as much as possible in hospitals and upon returning home. It is also important to collect more long-term research data, so that we get a better picture of the neurological development of premature children.”

2023-06-07 12:08:43
#simple #method #premature #babies #chance #survival

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