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WHO Suggests 'Kangaroo Mother Care' for Small & Preterm Babies: What We Know

Preterm babies require medical assistance for breathing and stabilization of their bodies.

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The World Health Organisation, ahead of World Prematurity Day, released a set of new guidelines for the care of premature (having a gestational age below 37 weeks) or small (weighing under 2.5 kg at birth) babies in a recent issue.

Prematurity is today a leading cause of death in children under the age of five.

WHO mentions that "approximately 45 percent of all children under the age of five who die are newborns, and 60–80 percent of those newborns who die are premature and/or small for gestational age."

“Preterm babies can survive, thrive, and change the world – but each baby must be given that chance.”
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General

What Are The New Guidelines?

For premature babies, initial recommendations suggested that the baby and the caregiver must be separated for 3-7 days for the stabilisation of the child.

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However, WHO's new guidelines say that the caregiver and the preterm baby should not be separated after birth.

  • The recent guidelines recommend that skin-to-skin contact between the caregiver and child be immediately established after birth since it is more effective in saving lives.

  • The method of this contact is known as "kangaroo mother care," where skin-to-skin contact is ensured for as long as possible in a special sling or wrap with a primary caregiver.

  • Kangaroo mother care also "reduces infections, hypothermia, and improves feeding."

  • Breastfeeding is also an essential part of the new guidelines as breast milk reduces the risk of infections. When the mother’s milk is not available, WHO suggests a donor's milk as the best alternative.

  • The recent guidelines also call for collective care of the babies and their families.

  • These guidelines also suggest increased emotional and financial support for caregivers and advocates for financial and workplace support to them by the government.

WHO's recent guidelines for the care of preterm and small babies proves that the chances of survival of these babies not only depend upon high-tech solutions, but are also dependent upon access to healthcare that is centered upon the needs of the families.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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