19 March 2015
Dr. Lauren Wild
Infants born prematurely or at a low birth weight are at a higher risk for medical and developmental complications than full-term infants. Complications can affect the growing infant and family drastically with problems ranging from chronic lung disease to neurodevelopmental problems (Browne, 2003). Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) and health care providers attempt to provide around-the-clock care to sick, premature, or low birth weight infants via special training and equipment. Another method of care for preterm infants involves skin-to-skin contact, exclusive breastfeeding, and support to the dyad; this is referred to as Kangaroo Care or Kangaroo Mother Care. Research evidence relating to the benefits of using Kangaroo Care for premature and/or low birth weight infants suggests that the best overall environment for the stable preterm baby is his or her parents’ body (Browne, 2003), but it is understood that health care is compulsory at times, so an individualized care program with a collaboration of Kangaroo Care and medical care is best for the infant and the family. Globally, prematurity is the leading cause of death in children under the age of five, and preterm birth rates are steadily rising. The term “premature” or “preterm” is defined as babies born alive prior to thirty-seven weeks of pregnancy; with sub-categories of premature infants based on gestational age. (Blencowe et al., 2012) An extremely preterm infant would be born alive before twenty-eight weeks of pregnancy are complete, a very preterm is considered to be within twenty-eight weeks to thirty-two weeks, and a moderate preterm would be born alive prior to thirty-two through thirty-seven weeks (Blencowe et al., 2012). Moreover, the majority of premature infants are considered low birth weight infants; however, some full-term infants may be born with a low birth weight. There are many causes that may attribute to the birth of a low birth weight infant such as, maternal hypertension, substance use, lack of maternal weight gain (Browne, 2003). Older mothers, young mothers, and mothers with unhealthy lifestyles or insufficient prenatal care have greater risks for delivering a baby with a low birth weight. An infant born weighing 1,000 through 2,500 grams is considered to have an extremely low, very low, or a low birth weight. (Browne, 2003) Premature or low birth weight infants have high chances of facing many difficulties and disabilities. These may include neurodevelopmental problems such as neurosensory impairment, cognitive delays, neuro-behavioral and socio-emotional problems, and motor deficits (Brown, 2003). Furthermore, since the lungs mature later than most organ systems, preterm babies may struggle breathing independently (Blencowe et al., 2012). This leaves the infant vulnerable to acute complications including bronchopulmonary, respiratory distress syndrome, apnea, and so on. Akin to the lungs, the infant’s immune system is also immature, leaving the baby susceptible to bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. (Webb, Passmore, Cline, & Maguire, 2014) In effort to combat and defeat some of these complications, there was an explosion of technological, pharmacological, and hospi-centric care in the 1960’s (Browne, 2003). The aforementioned NICU’s implemented and kept up with these advances in effort to improve survival rates among premature and low birth weight infants. While survival rates are improving, many premature and low birth weight infants are still experiencing long-lasting developmental and behavioral problems (Browne, 2003). This is because a preterm birth interferes with specific developmental events, compromising maturation and successful development. However, Kangaroo Mother Care involves early environmental stimulation, which may influence brain maturation post-birth, coinciding with the third-trimester....
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mother care helps fathers of preterm infants gain confidence in the paternal role
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Browne, J.V. (2003). New perspectives on premature infants and their parents. Zero to Three,
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