On the occasion of World Prematurity Day, the WHO recommends skin-to-skin contact from birth rather than the incubator for premature or low birth weight babies.
- Each year, approximately 15 million children around the world are born prematurely.
- More than 20 million babies have low birth weight.
- Prematurity is now the leading cause of death in children under 5 years old.
“Previously, it was recommended to separate the newborn from the person who mainly takes care of it for a certain time, in order to stabilize it in an incubator or an incubator. It took on average 3 to 7 days”, said the World Health Organization (WHO) in a statement published on November 15.
Skin-to-skin: for premature babies or babies weighing less than 2.5 kg
In this publication, the health authority issued new recommendations aimed at strengthening the care of premature or low birth weight children. From now on, she strongly advises skin-to-skin contact, also called the “kangaroo mother method”, immediately after birth, without prior passage in an incubator. This practice, carried out in a baby carrier or a special sling for as long as possible, is recommended for babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy or weighing less than 2.5 kg.
“Considerable health benefits” for the newborn
The WHO points out that close contact between a preterm newborn and the caregiver presents “considerable health benefits.” According to several studies, skin-to-skin contact from birth is not only psychologically important but also improves breastfeeding, reduces infections and hypothermia.
Another benefit of the “kangaroo mother method”: an improved chance of survival. In general, premature babies lack body fat. They have difficulty regulating their own temperature and often need medical assistance to breathe.
Separating mother from baby can have ‘catastrophic consequences’
“Premature infants can survive, thrive and change the world, provided that every newborn can have that chance. These guidelines show that improving the outlook for these tiny infants is not always about providing the best solutions. more sophisticated, but rather to guarantee access to essential health care centered on the needs of families”, said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of WHO.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us that many women have been wrongfully separated from their children, which can have potentially catastrophic consequences for the health of infants born prematurely or with low birth weight. These new guidelines insist on the need to care for families and premature babies together as a unit, and to ensure that parents have the best possible support in what is often a particularly stressful and distressing time”, continued Dr. Karen Edmond, physician in charge of newborn health at WHO.