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Kangaroo care procedure as a primary environment for preterm infants and their caregivers

Genesoni, L.; (2012) Kangaroo care procedure as a primary environment for preterm infants and their caregivers. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Background: A preterm birth, usually accompanied by the need for neonatal intensive care (NICU) and subsequent parents-infant separation, can disrupt infants’ early development, parental psychological well-being and parent-infant bonding. Recent research indicates that the early environment and experiences play a critical role in infant development and parenting processes. Kangaroo Care (KC) procedure has been introduced in high technology settings to supplement incubator care and to reduce the initial parents-infant separation through skin-toskin contact. Research has demonstrated its medical benefits but only partially documented its psychological effects on infants’ long-term development and parenting outcomes, and controversial data has emerged in the UK. Aim: The aim is to evaluate the psychological and behavioural impact of KC in high technology NICU during the first year of life. The domains investigated are: 1) parental psychological stress; 2) parents-preterm infant relationships; 3) mother-infant dyadic interaction; 4) proximal environment and 5) preterm infants cognitive, motor, socio-emotional and behavioural development. Method: 56 mother-preterm infant dyads in KC were compared to a control group of 34 in traditional care. Within this sample, a study was conducted with 28 fathers whose partner experienced KC contact with their infant and 16 fathers who were part of the Control group. Data was collected at 6 stages: before the initiation of KC procedure, after discharge from hospital, and at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months. Results: KC mothers have less parental stress, better attachment and interaction with their preterm infant across the research times and they provide a better home environment at 3 months than the Control group. Moreover, KC infants are more responsive during interaction, present better development in terms of motor and adaptive behaviors skills at 6 months, and better communication skills at 12 months than the TC group. Conversely, KC does not directly influence fathers’ psychological stress and the formation of father-infant relationships. Conclusions: The KC procedure promotes maternal psychological well-being and mother-infant dyadic relationships with a consequent positive influence on mother-child attachment and infant development.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Kangaroo care procedure as a primary environment for preterm infants and their caregivers
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1343963
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