We all know that mother-child relationships are usually the most important in both of their lives. But just how important are they? Researchers from Harvard Chan School of Public Health and from the Boston Children’s Hospital revealed that kangaroo mother care greatly improves infant mortality rates.
- 99% of neonatal deaths occur in countries with low or middle incomes
- Kangaroo mother care is also known as skin to skin care
- The study focused on 124 studies, published between 2000 and 2014
- It was published on December 22nd in the journal Pediatrics
As compared to regular infant care, kangaroo mother care, or skin to skin care can lead to an improvement of more than one third regarding infant neonatal deaths.
The study was a meta-analysis of other studies compiled between 2000 and 2014, which looked at the effect mother kangaroo care, combined with exclusive breastfeeding, had on neonatal deaths.
The biggest reduction in the number of deaths took place for babies delivered before their term and for babies with too low a birth weight. These were the most drastic results, even though other babies also really benefited from the care, at their pain tolerance, temperature regulation and oxygenation levels.
Even though skin to skin care showed the best results in preterm and underweight infants, as well as in less developed countries where medical resources like incubators are limited, medical authorities are moving to raise awareness about the beneficial effects of kangaroo mother care in the United States as well.
Over 4 million babies die each year within their first month of life, and preterm and underweight infants are at an especially high risk.
After following the wide series of studies, the meta analysis revealed that among infants weighing less than 4.4 pounds, skin to skin care led to a 36% decreased risk of death and a 47% decreased risk of the baby suffering from a major infection or even sepsis.
Kangaroo mother care also proved beneficial in the regulation of the babies’ oxygen levels, as well as for a normal head growth and for reduced pain levels.
Additionally, mothers who practiced skin to skin care showed a 50% increased propensity to practice breastfeeding exclusively after getting out of the hospital.
Image source: Wikimedia