The Kangaroo Study

An infant needs a warm, close and continual relationship with an adult in order to bond securely and grow up with good mental health.

Foto: Juan D Collado

In the early 1970s, Marshall H. Klaus and John H. Kennell argued that the period immediately after birth is vital to effective bonding with the mother. They discussed various types of behaviour that were key to promoting bonding. Among such behaviour were touching, skin-to-skin contact, eye contact and consolation. 

Preterm infants are often separated from their mothers and placed in incubators to receive warmth and moisture. The loss of intimacy with a parent is one of the most potent stress factors at this stage of life. Infants who have experienced emotional neglect exhibit demonstrable changes to the stress system (HPA axis) and higher levels of cortisol during childhood, which can cause cognitive and behavioral problems.

Recovery of the stress system requires the experience of safety and security, i.e., a close relationship with a trustworthy and sensitive caregiver able to understand and respond to the signals of the child. The kangaroo method (skin-to-skin care) involves holding a preterm infant upright on the parent's chest, around the clock instead of in an incubator. Research on the kangaroo method has demonstrated that it is a reliable approach for moderately preterm infants, encourages breastfeeding and promotes calmness and sleep.

The overall aim of this study is to explore whether the kangaroo method around the clock is applicable and in the best interests of the infant and family in a high-tech neonatal environment in Sweden.

Method: prospective randomised study combined with processing of qualitative data

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