oa South African Family Practice - Utility of kangaroo mother care in pretermand low birthweight infants : review article

Volume 55, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 2078-6190
  • E-ISSN: 2078-6204



Preterm birth (< 37 completed weeks of gestation) is the largest direct cause of neonatal mortality, accounting for an estimated 27% of the 4-million neonatal deaths every year. Kangaroo mother care (KMC) is a type of care for preterm and premature infants whereby the infant is placed in an upright position against the parent's chest, with early skin-to-skin contact between the parent and infant. Mothers who practise KMC exhibit less maternal stress and fewer symptoms of depression, and have a better sense of the parenting role and more confidence in meeting their babies' needs than those who don't. Despite the apparent feasibility of KMC, currently, only a few preterm babies in low-income countries have access to this intervention. Knowledge of the effectiveness and safety of KMC in the community and home setting, and its effects on growth, is still incomplete. Only one study has examined KMC initiation at home. There is an immense need for the promotion of research to improve the delivery of existing cost-effective interventions in low-resource settings and to address key gaps in knowledge. KMC improves growth in low birthweight and preterm infants, and has a significant role to play in protecting them from hypothermia and sepsis, as well as promoting exclusive breastfeeding. KMC helps to reduce neonatal mortality, and inculcates confidence and a better sense of parenting in mothers with regard to their babies' needs.

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