Kangaroo Care helps Preemies throughout life.

Photo courtesy of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) via Flickr

An excellent article by Maggie Fox over at NBC News gives a great report concerning the long term effects of kangaroo care over a 20 year period. Experts have discovered that instead of being left in incubators, babies held upright and next to bare skin and breastfed grew up with fewer social problems. They were also far less likely to die prematurely.

Kangaroo care was first practiced in Colombia. Now the team of experts who first showed it was safe did a 20-year follow-up to see how the babies fared as they grew up. They tracked down 494 of the original 716 children who were born prematurely from 1993 to 1996 and randomly assigned to get either kangaroo mother care or standard handling.

"The effects of kangaroo mother care at one year on IQ and home environment were still present 20 years later in the most fragile individuals, and kangaroo mother care parents were more protective and nurturing," Dr. Nathalie Charpak and colleagues at the Kangaroo Foundation in Bogota, Colombia, wrote in their report.

"At 20 years, the young ex-kangaroo mother care participants, especially in the poorest families, had less aggressive drive and were less impulsive and hyperactive. They exhibited less antisocial behavior, which might be associated with separation from the mother at birth," they added.

The World Health Organization (WHO) promotes the simpler, low-tech approach alongside modern medical care — or instead of it in some poor settings. WHO stated the following about this care:

"Kangaroo mother care is care of preterm infants carried skin-to-skin with the mother. It is a powerful, easy-to-use method to promote the health and well-being of infants born preterm as well as full-term. Its key features are: early, continuous and prolonged skin-to-skin contact between the mother and the baby; exclusive breastfeeding (ideally); it is initiated in hospital and can be continued at home; small babies can be discharged early; mothers at home require adequate support and follow-up. It is a gentle, effective method that avoids the agitation routinely experienced in a busy ward with preterm infants. Almost two decades of implementation and research have made it clear that kangaroo mother care is more than an alternative to incubator care."

For more information and to read the full article, please click on this link: http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/cuddling-preemies-kangaroo-style-helps-adulthood-n694971