In 2015 and again earlier this year, a photo of Swedish father and son snuggling with premature twins went viral. The sweet snap was posted on NINO Birth's Facebook page.
Babies that are born premature often haven't fully formed vital functions like strong lungs, or the ability to latch and feed. The most common practice, has been to whisk the baby away to the incubator.
Although it is a well-monitored, sterile and warm environment, there is something missing that no machine can provide.
People, and especially babies, are social creatures that thrive on the comfort of physical contact. Without affectionate human touch a baby will die, even if it is fed.
In 124 studies from around the world, experts confirm that skin-to-skin contact, or "kangaroo care" has incredible value for premature newborns. This kind of care more effectively regulates newborns' body temperature, promotes breast feeding and improves vital signs like heart rate and breathing.
Dr. Grace Chan, senior study author says that kangaroo care could lead to improvements in outcomes for infants in U.S. neonatal intensive care units.
Dr. Siobhan Dolan is a medical adviser to the March of Dimes, agrees. She says that the data suggests something as simple as skin-to-skin contact can really be effective in improving the life-expectancy of premature babies.
Although it is practiced by many U.S. hospitals with full-term babies, starting right after birth, it still isn't the norm. Some neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) practice kangaroo care for preterm babies, but again, it's not common across all states.
Given the scientific evidence, Chan said, it would "definitely be worthwhile to expand the practice here."
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