Zero separation. Together for better care! Infant and family-centred developmental care in times of COVID-19 – A global survey of parents’ experiences

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The COVID-19 pandemic has created exceptional challenges, especially for the care of preterm, sick and low birthweight infants. While most restrictions were necessary to stem virus transmission, some have impacted the provision of healthcare, including infant and family-centred developmental care (IFCDC). Hospitalised newborns, together with their families, have been severely affected by separation policies with so far unforeseen short and long-term consequences. We therefore call for a zero separation policy and the consistent application of an IFCDC approach.

The study

This global online-survey was conducted to explore parents’ experiences with regard to the disruptions and restrictions on different elements of IFCDC during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents of newborns in need of special/intensive care shared their experiences regarding prenatal care, parental access, infant nutrition and breastfeeding, health communication, and mental health.


Overall, 2103 parents from 56 countries participated in the survey. More than half of the participants were not allowed to have a support person present during the birth of their child. A further alarming finding was the strict separation of parents and their newborns; one in five parents indicated that no-one was allowed to be present with the hospitalised newborn. Country-specific differences could be identified, showing that several elements of IFCDC seem to be more affected in some countries than in others.

Global findings

Published in The Lancet’s EClinical Medicine:


In the Lancet Child & Adolescent Health:

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