Health & Medical Children & Kid Health

Kangaroo Care as a Neonatal Therapy

´╗┐Kangaroo Care as a Neonatal Therapy

Modify the Macro- and Micro-environments So They Are Calm and Soothing for the Infant and His/Her Family

Kangaroo Care (KC), per se, does not change the macro-environment of the NICU, but fortunately, another major change has. In the last two decades the NICU environment has changed from open-bay, multi-bed rooms to single-family rooms to reduce environmental stimulation and encourage parent caregiving and presence. Single-family rooms have been quite successful in minimizing noxious macro-environment events/conditions, and the American Academy of Pediatrics has acknowledged that the incubator may be a toxic environment for the infant because it separates the infant from his mother.

Kangaroo Care, however, does provide a calm and soothing micro-environment. Lying on or between mother's breasts is a safe and warm environment. Following transfer into KC, ideally by standing transfer technique because standing transfer is less physiologically and behaviorally disruptive to the infant, infants stop crying and then go sleep. Maternal sounds and voice are calming auditory experiences for the infant. Upon awakening, looking at the mother's eyes and face are soothing, and are critical events for visual development prior to 40 weeks postmenstrual age. Physiological stabilization and behavioral calm ensue because the autonomic nervous system switches over from sympathetic (fight or flight status, stress activating mode) to parasympathetic control due to the release of oxytocin in the insular cortex following KC's pleasing touch stimulation of unmyelinated exquisitely sensitive C-afferent nerves that are in limited locales (chest, across the shoulders, and forearm) and only respond to pleasant touch.

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