Kangaroo-mother care (KMC), the natural method of care for newborn babies, is proving to have better results than traditional after-birth procedures.

In a Colombian trial which compared the two methods used on almost 1000 babies, Kangaroo care, which involves plenty of skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby, frequent breastfeeding and early discharge from hospital, resulted in fewer infections and increased breastfeeding rates than do traditional methods.

In the trials carried out in Bogota, Colombia, babies cared for by traditional procedures had restricted parental access and were kept in hospital incubators until they could regulate their temperature. They were discharged after reaching a weight of 1700 g.

Although mortality rates between the two groups were similar (KMC 1.6 per cent; traditional care 2.9 per cent), as was growth, in the KMC group the duration of hospital stay was shortened by 1.1 days, infections were less severe and breastfeeding rates were higher.

The researchers intend to continue monitoring the physical and neurological development of the babies as they grow (Lancet, 1997; 350:1721).

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Written by What Doctors Don't Tell You

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