Tuesday, January 14th, 2014
Holding babies, particularly those who are born prematurely, directly against a mother’s body in a technique called “skin-to-skin contact” or “kangaroo care” may have benefits for babies that last years into their development. More from LiveScience:
In the study, the researchers asked 73 mothers to give their babies skin-to-skin contact for one hour per day for two weeks. For comparison, the researchers also looked at 73 premature infants who only spent time in an incubator — the standard form of care for premature infants.
At age 10, the children who had received maternal contact as infants slept better, showed better hormonal response to stress, had a more mature functioning of their nervous system and displayed better thinking skills.
The results show that adding “maternal-infant contact in the neonatal period has a favorable impact on stress physiology and behavioral control across long developmental epochs in humans,” Ruth Feldman, a professor of psychology at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, and her colleagues wrote in their study, published Jan. 1 in the journal Biological Psychiatry.
About 12 percent of infants in the United States and other industrialized societies are born prematurely, which is defined as at least three weeks before their due date. Rates of preterm birth are significantly higher in developing countries. Premature babies face a higher risk of lifelong problems such as intellectual disabilities, breathing problems, hearing loss and digestive problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Image: Mom holding infant, via Shutterstock
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Friday, September 9th, 2011
Babies undergoing a painful medical procedure show less pain when they’re in mom’s arms instead of dad’s, a new study shows.
Reuters Health reports that researchers observed 62 premature babies in neonatal intensive care as they had blood drawn from their heels for tests. The mothers and fathers alternated holding their babies for each blood test. Researchers videotaped the babies’ faces, and then analyzed the tape for signs of pain, “such as squeezed eyes and a furrowed nose and lip,” Reuters said.
Babies exhibited fewer pain signs when their mothers held them. Researchers suspect the difference could be related to anatomy. “The difference in the male physique, especially the chest, may be perceived by the infant to be not that of a natural caregiver,” the scientists said.
Still, the difference between mom and dad was small, and the study may be more important for showing the benefits for preemies of skin-to-skin contact with their parents. Also called “kangaroo care,” this involves nestling an undressed baby against the parent’s bare skin, and then covering the parent and baby with a blanket.
From Reuters Health:
“There’s a big difference between when a baby gets (blood drawn) alone in an incubator and when the mom or dad holds the baby for this procedure,” said Dr. Larry Gray, a pediatrician at Comer Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago who was not involved in the new study. “The first take-home is, boy, this really works.”
Previous studies have shown that skin-to-skin contact has a number of positive health benefits for the baby, including relieving pain. And that could be especially important in preemies that need extra medical procedures and are more fragile than full-term babies, experts say.
“Here’s a little 3-pound baby who says, ‘I’d much rather have weighed 6 pounds or 7 pounds at birth, and now I have to keep myself warm, I have to beat my little heart,’” Gray said. With kangaroo care, “the parent provides the warmth, and the breathing regulation, and all of those hidden things,” he told Reuters Health.
(image via: http://kidhaven.com)
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