Direct skin contact is good for premature babies

A lot of skin contact with mothers and fathers has a positive effect on brain development in premature babies, according to the latest message from the professional association of pediatricians (BVKJ) with reference to the results of a study by Canadian researchers from the Université Laval. The method, also known as Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC), in which the child is placed undressed on the bare chest of a parent and covered, can therefore compensate for some disadvantages of premature babies later in life.

"Babies who are born before the 33rd week often have difficulty keeping up with the development of babies born on time," explains Dr. Ulrich Fegeler, Federal Press Officer of the Professional Association of Pediatricians (BVKJ) in Cologne. Apparently, skin-to-skin contact can accelerate the development of premature babies. The heartbeat of the parents and the warmth of the skin presumably offer similar stimulations as babies receive in the mother's belly, the pediatrician explained the proven positive effect of the kangaroo method.

Skin-to-skin contact with parents good for development As part of the Canadian study, Université Laval researchers were able to demonstrate that 15-year-olds who were born premature and who had increased skin contact with their parents through the KMC method "Certain areas showed comparable brain reactions or functions to those born at the time of birth," reports the BVKJ. 15-year-olds who were not given KMC as premature babies, on the other hand, performed worse, for example, in the areas responsible for movement control or for coordination between the left and right half of the body. In previous studies, it had already been shown that KMC also had a direct calming effect on premature babies and that they were better able to cope with such unpleasant experiences as taking blood from the heel, the BVKJ announcement. Close skin contact of premature babies and parents outside the incubator is therefore highly recommended. Because in the end "not only premature babies benefit from skin contact with the parents", but "the close contact promotes the bond between parents and child and helps the child to calm down more quickly in stressful situations", emphasized the Federal Press Secretary of the professional association of children- and adolescent doctors.

Premature babies with increased impairments later in life Although premature babies cannot be with their parents consistently due to their particular susceptibility, the current findings suggest that they should have as much direct contact with mom and dad as possible. Without the incubators, which ensure a special microclimate that protects the children in a special way, the care of premature babies will not be able to get along for the time being. Especially since many premature babies suffer from impairments such as respiratory distress syndrome, which requires a tube and artificial ventilation, which takes place in the incubator. However, the previous care of premature babies in the clinics, despite all the progress, cannot remedy the disadvantage of children later in life. Studies have found a wide variety of consequences of premature birth. These range from an increased susceptibility to Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorders (ADHD), asthma and motor disorders to more severe mental illnesses. If the KMC method could only compensate for some of these disadvantages, a lot would already be gained for premature babies. (fp)

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