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Study Proves Long-Term Benefits of Kangaroo Care

Sleeping Baby and Mother
Photograph by Getty Images/iStockphoto

They say human contact can heal.

Now, it's been proven with the most basic of relationships: a mother with her newborn.

Premature babies can encounter many health issues, from breathing problems to learning disabilities and beyond. The U.S. has a premature birth rate of about 12 percent, but in impoverished nations, that percentage soars.

Kangaroo care, or skin-to-skin contact, has long been utilized around the world to help preemie babies through the trying time after birth. But, until a recent study, researchers didn't know how long the health benefits of kangaroo care would actually last.

Researchers at Bar-Ilan University in Israel split 150 premature infants into two groups—half of the infants' mothers were told to perform kangaroo care for an hour a day for two weeks; the other infants were placed in incubators with no skin-to-skin contact with their mothers.

Ten years later, researchers performed follow-up tests on all the children and found that those who received Kangaroo care "slept better, showed better hormonal responses to stress, had a more mature nervous system, and better overall thinking skills than those [who] spent their days in an incubator." Their mothers also reported a closer relationship with their children, compared to the mothers whose babies were in the incubators.

We're happy to report the bottom line on this one: Human contact can truly heal.

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