Kangaroo Care

An in-depth analysis of the benefits and safety of kangaroo care.

This paper critically examines the literature and determines if there is adequate evidence of the benefits and safety of kangaroo care. Kangaroo care is the practice of holding a premature infant, skin to skin, often between the mother?s breasts, to provide close human contact between the parent and the infant. It explains that the practice of kangaroo care has been gaining acceptance since it was first introduced in 1983. It further explains that the name ‘kangaroo care’ was derived from the similarities that it bears to marsupial caregiving in which the infant kangaroo, which is always born prematurely, is guided into the maternal pouch.
“The ten articles used in this critique had many strengths and weaknesses. The most recent research article reviewed was titled Parents? Perception of Skin-to Skin Care With Their Preterm Infants requiring Assisted Ventilation by Madalynn Neu, RN, PhD, 1999. The literature review in this article was thorough in comparing several studies addressing kangaroo care of preterm infants. The research design used was a naturalistic inquiry that used open-ended, face-to face, and telephone interviews to explore parents? feelings regarding kangaroo care while their infant was on assisted ventilation. One of the weaknesses of this study was its small sample size. The sample consisted of 8 out of 15 parents, who had been previously interviewed for another study comparing transfer methods used during kangaroo care, agreed to participate in this study. There was no mention of informed consent, only that they agreed to participate. Five of the eight parents participated in kangaroo care throughout their infant’s hospitalization. After two study observations, three of the parents did not continue to participate in kangaroo care. The three themes derived from this study were (1) ambivalence of parents toward kangaroo care, (2) the need for a supportive environment, and (3) the special quality of parent-infant interaction. The parents who continued participating in kangaroo care expressed the importance in of kangaroo care for their infant’s well being, and the special bonding that it facilitates. The parents voiced that they wanted to hold their infants sooner, but did not for fear that they would harm their infant. One parent noted that her infant’s vital signs improved during kangaroo care, and credited kangaroo care for her infant’s good outcome. Further research of the parents? perceptions of kangaroo care will help determine the best measures to promote satisfaction during kangaroo care and indicate the safety and feasibility of it.”