Kangaroo Care Cuts Mortality in Low Birth Weight Newborns

Improved neonatal outcomes versus conventional care for infants of any birth weight, gestational age

woman with a baby

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 23, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Kangaroo mother care (KMC) is associated with improved neonatal outcomes among infants of any birth weight or gestational age, according to a review published online Dec. 23 in Pediatrics.

Ellen O. Boundy, Sc.D., from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to estimate the correlation between KMC and neonatal outcomes. Data were included from 124 studies involving infants of any birth weight or gestational age.

The researchers found that KMC correlated with 36 percent lower mortality among low birth weight newborns, compared with conventional care among those newborns who survived to receive KMC (relative risk, 0.64). KMC also correlated with reduced risks of neonatal sepsis, hypothermia, hypoglycemia, and hospital readmission (relative risks, 0.53, 0.22, 0.12, and 0.42, respectively). KMC was associated with increased exclusive breastfeeding (relative risk, 1.50). KMC was also associated with lower mean respiratory rate and pain measures in newborns and with higher oxygen saturation, temperature, and head circumference growth.

"KMC is protective against a wide variety of adverse neonatal outcomes and has not shown evidence of harm," the authors write. "This safe, low-cost intervention has the potential to prevent many complications associated with preterm birth and may also provide benefits to full-term newborns."

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