‘Kan­ga­roo moth­er­ing’ helps boost a child’s health and in­tel­li­gence

Con­tin­u­ous skin-to-skin con­tact with a new­born in­creases earn­ings and scor­ing in IQ tests

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SCIENCE - By HENRY BOD­KIN

Kan­ga­roo moth­er­ing”, the prac­tice of con­tin­u­ous skin-to-skin con­tact with a new­born baby, re­sults in health­ier, more in­tel­li­gent and suc­cess­ful off­spring, a new study re­veals.

A 20-year fol­low-up from a land­mark trial found that those nur­tured in the kan­ga­roo method scored higher in IQ tests and earned 53 per cent more.

They were also found to be less likely to have be­havioural prob­lems such as ag­gres­sion and dis­play ab­sen­teeism than ba­bies in a con­trol group.

Fol­low­ers of the method nest an in­fant in a “kan­ga­roo” po­si­tion on their chest as soon as pos­si­ble af­ter birth. Both mother and baby are sup­posed to go home as quickly as safely fea­si­ble.

The tech­nique is of­ten used as an al­ter­na­tive to in­cu­ba­tion in cases of pre­ma­ture birth, whereby the trained mother or care­giver acts as the child’s in­cu­ba­tor and its main source of stim­u­la­tion and food, in the form of breast feed­ing. per­cent per­cent

Between 1993 and 1996 a group of more than 700 pre­ma­turely born ba­bies in Columbia were, on the ba­sis of ran­dom­ized se­lec­tion, placed ei­ther in an in­cu­ba­tor or were nur­tured us­ing the kan­ga­roo method.

Two decades later, a fol­low-up sur­vey funded by the Cana­dian Govern­ment, has shown that those who un­der­went the lat­ter method ben­e­fited by com­par­i­son.

Pub­lished in the jour­nal Pae­di­atrics, the re­search shows that kan­ga­roo moth­er­ing of­fered sig­nif­i­cant pro­tec­tion against early death, with the a 3.5 per cent mor­tal­ity rate com­pared to a 7.7 per cent rate in the con­trol group.

IQ test also showed a small but sig­nif­i­cant ad­van­tage of 3.5 per cent com­pared to other in­fants.

Lead re­searcher Dr Nathalie Charpak, of the Kan­ga­roo Foun­da­tion in Bo­gota, said the method has “Sig­nif­i­cant, long-last­ing so­cial and be­havioural pro­tec­tive ef­fects 20 years af­ter the in­ter­ven­tion”.

“We firmly be­lieve that this is a pow­er­ful, ef­fi­cient, sci­en­tif­i­cally based health­care in­ter­ven­tion that can be used in all set­tings, from those with very re­stricted to un­re­stricted ac­cess to health­care.”

The study also found that, com­pared with ba­bies in the con­trol group, those nur­tured in the kan­ga­roo method went on to de­velop big­ger brains, with sig­nif­i­cantly larger vol­umes of grey mat­ter.

mor­tal­ity rate from early death among pre­ma­turely born ba­bies nur­tured us­ing the kan­ga­roo method mor­tal­ity rate from early death among pre­ma­turely born ba­bies that were placed in an in­cu­ba­tor


Keep­ing the baby close to the mother’s chest is sup­posed to have ben­e­fits.

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