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Kargaroo Care

The U.S Children displayed aggression toward their peers 29% of the time compared to 1% in the french youngsters.

Standard?care for Western newborns, for?mature as well as full-term babies, is?separation from mother. Full-term new-borns remain in bassinet carts for most of?the day. Preemies generally remain in incu?bators for their first weeks of extra-uterine?life. Self-regulation of body temperature??is weak in term newborns and very inadequate in preemies. Temperature, oxygen,?and infection regulation are the chief purposes of incubators. Of course, breast-milk?regulates infection too. It has been found?that for all newborns, even very premature?infants, placing them skin to skin on the?chest of the mother or father provides superior temperature regulation to that of an incubator. Measures of important energy conservation (oxygen consumption) in these infants are excellent as well.

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The concept of kangaroo care was introduced in Colombia in 1978. Designed especially for small and preterm babies, the infant wears only a diaper and is placed upright inside the mother’s clothing, in between her breasts. Here he can feed at will and can enjoy the comfort and gentle stimulation of continued contact with mother?her warmth, sounds, and odor. Almost no crying is heard this way, compared to the long pulses of “separation distress calls” normally found in the nursery. This method of care has become standard in Scandinavian countries (where the infant?death rate is half that of the United States) and has been adopted in other European countries for several hours per day. In the United States, in 1979, researchers demonstrated significant improvement in the recovery of newborns when affectionate treatment was given to them on cue. Not yet ready for allowing the mother in, this treatment was provided by nurses. Newborns were rocked, cuddled, and provided with verbal and visual stimulation, and they were allowed to suck on a pacifier as much as desired. In comparison with standard-care infants, these babies demonstrated superior temperature regulation and respiratory rate, far fewer heart murmurs were detected, fewer sucking and swallowing difficulties were seen, and almost no crying was found.?Over twenty years later, some in the United States are starting to seriously consider this kind of care.

Kangaroo care decreases newborn deaths, and these infants gain twice as much weight per day as incubator babies. Kangaroo care also results in more sleep, good oxygen saturation, less agitation, reduced stress hormone, many fewer episodes of apnea (no breathing), and more stable heart rates. A 1999 U.S. school of nursing study confirmed all these findings and reported that kangaroo care would be beneficial for newborns, beginning in the delivery room. This care can also be used with preterm infants who require tube feeding; it even accelerates production of a hormone that stimulates secretion of digestive enzymes. Even those on respirators can benefit from kangaroo care.

Hospital procedures can be painful and taxing for preemies, causing stress hormone elevations and spending valuable energy resources. Several studies have confirmed that skin-to-skin care reduces the pain experienced by tiny babies. Hospital stays are much shorter for preemies who receive this kind of attention. This early skin-to-skin care has also been shown to significantly improve mother’s milk volume, a common challenge with preterm births, and it improves mother’s attachment and maternal behaviors.

Certainly all the advantages of close contact and responsive care in newborns apply to older infants as well. Although it is difficult to study the individual effects of contact at different ages, the cumulative effects are apparent in attachment studies.

Text copyright ? THE BABY BOND by Dr. Linda Folden Palmer

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