Immediate Skin-to-Skin Contact Found to be Beneficial for Very Preterm Babies


A recent study published in JAMA Network Open has revealed that immediate skin-to-skin contact (SSC) between parents and very preterm babies is highly beneficial for the mother-infant relationship. The study, conducted by researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, analyzed the impact of immediate SSC on mother-infant interaction quality at 4 months of corrected age.

The analysis included 71 infants and 56 mothers, with 37 infants assigned to standard care and 34 infants assigned to SSC with either parent after birth. The results showed that fathers provided more SSC than mothers during the first six hours after birth, averaging 3.25 hours compared to 0.75 hours for mothers.

The study discovered a significant difference in one of the Parent-Child Early Relational Assessment subscales, specifically subscale 3, which focuses on infant positive affect, communicative skills, and social skills. The SSC group exhibited higher quality mother-infant interaction at 4 months, with the effect size calculated to be Cohen d = 0.67. Even after adjusting for variables such as primiparity, child sex, and observational setting, the positive effect of immediate SSC remained significant.

These findings suggest that there is a sensitive period after very preterm birth, during which close contact between parents and infants can have a long-term positive impact on the parent-infant relationship. The authors of the study highlight the importance of immediate SSC in promoting healthy bonding and attachment between parents and their preterm babies.

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