A Randomized Controlled Trial of Early Kangaroo Care for Preterm Infants: Effects on Temperature, Weight, Behavior, and Acuity

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Kangaroo care (KC) has been the intervention for preterm infants innumerous published studies. However, most well designed studies to date have used a one-group repeated measure design. This methodology is not as definitive as an experimental design. Because of the absence of a comparable control group, change between pretest and posttest may be due to any other environ mental variables or normal variation of subjects (Kirk, 1995). This randomized controlled trial (RCT) was done to test the hypotheses that KC infants would have higher mean tympanic temperatures, less weight loss, more optimal behavioral states, and lower acuity (length of stay). Thirty-four eligible mother-infant dyads were randomly assigned to the KC or the control group by computerized minimization on the day following birth. Stratification variables included infant gender, birth weight, delivery method, and parity. KC infants compared to control infants had higher mean tympanic temperature (37.3°C vs. 37.0°C), more quiet sleep (62% vs. 22%), and less crying (2% vs. 6%) all at p = .000. No significant difference was found for weight loss and acuity (length of stay). These findings can be used for evidence-based nursing practice in Taiwan. With the knowledge attained from this RCT, nurses can educate and motivate mothers to keep their stable preterm infants warm by skin-to-skin contact inside their clothing, thereby encouraging self-regulatory feeding.

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