Kangaroo mother care has been part of neonatology’s toolkit for close to 40 years. Characterized by four components — early and extensive skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby, exclusive breastfeeding, early health facility discharge and close follow-up care at home — this form of care was initially conceived as an alternative to incubator-based care for babies born preterm or with a very low birth weight (LBW), particularly in resource-poor parts of the globe.
While there’s extensive literature on KMC’s benefits — including reduced risk of infant morbidity and mortality — it’s been hard to get a complete picture of what the how well the approach works, and what its disadvantages might be. According to Grace Chan, MD, PhD, a researcher at T.H. Chan Harvard School of Public Health and a staff physician in Boston Children’s Hospital’s Intermediate Care Program, most of the reviews or meta-analyses available have focused on particular populations or specific outcome measures, or have only looked at randomized, controlled clinical trials (as opposed to how KMC works in real-world conditions).