This study aimed to investigate the effect of kangaroo care (KC) and its duration on neurobehavioral performance, stress response, breastfeeding success, and vital signs in premature infants.
One hundred and twenty premature infants were randomized to receive either KC for 60 min daily, KC for 120 min daily or conventional care (controls) for at least 7 days. Salivary cortisol was measured before and after the first KC session and then after 7 days. Temperature, respiration rate, heart rate, and oxygen saturation were recorded, before and after KC. Neonates were evaluated by the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Network Neurobehavioral Scale (NNNS).
Both KC groups demonstrated higher scores for attention, arousal, regulation, nonoptimal reflexes, and quality of movements and lower scores for handling, excitability, and lethargy, compared to controls (p < 0.05). Both KC groups had higher infant breastfeeding assessment tool score and reached full enteral feeds faster than controls (p < 0.05). After the first KC session, improvement in O2 saturation and temperature was observed in KC 120-min group compared with the KC 60-min group (p < 0.05). Salivary cortisol decreased in both KC groups compared with controls after 7 days (p < 0.05).
Preterm neonates who receive KC for long durations reach full enteral feeds faster, have better breastfeeding success, neurobehavioral performance, thermal control, and tissue oxygenation.