A technique known as Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) can help premature babies thrive for 20 years, according to a new study.
Young adults were found to benefit from continuous skin-to-skin contact – where the parent or carer nestles a baby in “kangaroo” position on the adult’s chest, as soon as possible after birth.
Preterm and low birth weight babies that were cared for in this way went on to be better behaved adults with larger brains, higher pay checks and more protective and nurturing families.
The idea is that a trained KMC parent or caregiver becomes a child’s incubator and a main source of food and stimulation until the baby can maintain their own body temperature.
The mother is encouraged to return home from hospital with the baby as soon as they can and the pair are rigorously monitored for a year.
“This study indicates that Kangaroo Mother Care has significant, long-lasting social and behavioural protective effects 20 years after the intervention,” said lead researcher Dr Nathalie Charpa, from The Kangaroo Foundation.