'Kangaroo Care' Reduces Infant Deaths

'Kangaroo Care' Reduces Infant Deaths

Low birth weight babies stand a better chance of surviving when their mothers hold them close throughout the day, a new study finds.

This technique is called kangaroo care because it mimics how kangaroos shield their babies in their pouch.

In women, it involves holding the newborn tightly to her body with the help of a scarf or harness, during the first month after birth, ideally for more than 12 hours a day.

"We discovered that the chance of survival increased as much as 30% within the first month and by 25% within the first six months," said researcher Halvor Sommerfelt, a professor at the Center for Intervention Science in Maternal and Child Health at the University of Bergen in Norway.

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"There are few health interventions that reduce mortality with as much as 30%. The only ones are vaccination programs," Sommerfelt said in a university news release.

In India, Sommerfelt's team followed 8,400 low birth weight babies from 2015 to 2018. The incidence of low birth weight in India is among the world's highest.

"We know that underweight infants are more vulnerable to disease and death than other infants. Half of the ones that don't survive, die during the first month of their life," Sommerfelt said. "Kangaroo mother care shows remarkable results in increasing survival. We hope that as many as possible will start to use the method."

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