Kangaroo Care for Even the Most Vulnerable Infants -- BDR Special Issue on Birth Practices

bdr2.v111.15.cover.jpgEight comprehensive reviews on Kangaroo Care research are now available in one place in the journal Birth Defects Research Volume 111, Issue 15 (September 2019 issue).  The full issue is available at: https://doi.org/10.1002/bdr2.v111.15 

Kangaroo Care researchers Drs. Kostandy and Ludington-Hoe recently guest edited the special issue which features eight reviews from national and international experts on Kangaroo Care and highlights the growing use of Kangaroo Care as a non-pharmacologic neonatal treatment therapy for many newborn problems including premature birth and congenital heart defects. Kostandy and Ludington-Hoe hope continued research and further dissemination of its effectiveness will also lead to increased adoption in hospitals dealing with newborn drug withdrawal across the country.

Cleveland State University nursing professor Dr. Raouth Kostandy and the Carl W. and Margaret Davis Walters Endowed Chair of Pediatric Nursing at Case Western Reserve University’s Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing Dr. Susan Ludington Hoe are collaborating to advance health and well-being for some of our most vulnerable medical patients: infants. They are working with local hospitals to increase the use of Kangaroo Care (KC) to for babies suffering from a range of illnesses and complications, with the goal of improving outcomes and ultimate health for patients and their families.

Kangaroo Care is regular, round the clock, skin-to-skin contact between an infant and a parent to reduce anxiety, improve breathing, regulate body temperature and increase microbe transfer from parent to child. Originally developed in Cleveland in the 1970’s and popularized by physicians from the Republic of Columbia in South America in the 1980’s Kangaroo Care has been shown to improve development in premature infants and assist in treatment for a wide variety of conditions and illnesses.

“By utilizing the natural connection between the infant and parent, both mother and father, KC reduces stress, enhances the development of regular sleeping patterns and improves responses to various treatments as well as providing needed therapy.  For example, a baby who is having spells in which breathing stops experiences a 75% reduction in those spells when held in Kangaroo Care,” Kostandy says. “Through Kangaroo Care research, I hope to further opportunities to utilize Kangaroo Care in neonatal medicine and nursing and develop state of the art metrics to document the effectiveness of Kangaroo Care broadly.

Kostandy and her research partner Ludington-Hoe are currently working with Metro Health Medical Center to improve treatment for infants suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome, an illness of babies born to drug addicted mothers that can cause serious birth defects and even death. Kostandy, Ludington-Hoe, and their Metro Health collaborators are working with a group of newborn infants on the Mother-Baby unit to specifically evaluate Kangaroo Care’s effectiveness as a technique for pain management and in reducing withdrawal symptoms in these newborns.  “Infants suffering from this illness experience significant pain and agitation during withdrawal and obviously can only be given restricted pain killers,” Kostandy adds. “It is our hope that Kangaroo Care will serve as a natural painkiller and reduce suffering for these newborns.”

“KC has seen significant adoption in Latin America and Europe but has not been as widely used in the USA, due to in large part to bureaucratic and cultural factors” she says. “It is my distinct hope that a broader understanding of the tremendous positive impacts of Kangaroo Care will help break down these barriers and increase its use as a means for improving infant health in the USA.”

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