Kangaroo mother care (KMC) refers to the practice of providing continuous skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby, exclusive breastmilk feeding, and early discharge from hospital.
KMC has been shown to decrease mortality and morbidity in preterm and low birthweight infants by providing protection from infection; regulating temperature, breathing, and brain activity; and encouraging mother-baby bonding.
The World Health Organization recommends KMC for the routine care of newborns weighing 2000 grams or less at birth. However, country-level adoption and implementation have been limited, and only a very small proportion of newborns who could benefit from KMC receive it. Barriers to KMC implementation include inadequate knowledge and skills for KMC, misperception of KMC as a “second-best” alternative to incubator care, cultural norms that make practice of skin-to-skin care difficult, poor data availability for KMC practice, and inadequate policy and professional commitment to KMC.
Accelerating KMC uptake
A KMC Acceleration Partnership is working to address barriers to effective implementation of KMC globally and accelerate uptake of KMC as part of a package of reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH) services. The multi-stakeholder partnership is an open-membership umbrella group that includes representatives from academia, nongovernmental organizations, donors, clinicians, and others. The partnership, aligned with the Every Newborn Action Plan, calls for increased and concentrated action at global and national levels to achieve a 50 percent increase in coverage of KMC by 2020.