Kangaroo care by fathers and mothers: comparison of physiological and stress responses in preterm infants

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To compare physiological and biochemical responses in stable preterm neonates and their parents following kangaroo mother care (KMC) and kangaroo father care (KFC).


We conducted a prospective cross-over design study of stable preterm neonates of <35 weeks gestation in a tertiary Neonatal Unit in Toronto. All neonates received KMC and KFC for 1 h on consecutive days in a random order. Heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, oxygen saturation and salivary cortisol in infants before and after kangaroo care and heart rate, temperature and salivary cortisol in parents before and after kangaroo care were measured. Pairwise comparisons of changes in these measures were analyzed.


Twenty-six sets of neonates and their parents were studied for physiological parameters, of which 19 had adequate samples for salivary cortisol assessment. The infants had a mean birth weight of 1096 g (s.d. = 217) and a mean postmenstrual age at study of 32 weeks (s.d. = 2). There were no significant differences in the changes in mean heart rate (P = 0.51), temperature (P = 0.37), oxygen saturation (P = 0.50), systolic blood pressure (P = 0.32), mean blood pressure (0.10) and salivary cortisol (P = 0.50) before and after KMC or KFC in the neonates. The changes in mean heart rate (P = 0.62), temperature (P = 0.28) and salivary cortisol (P = 0.59) before and after kangaroo care were similar between mothers and fathers.


No significant differences in physiological and stress responses were identified following KMC or KFC in preterm neonates. KFC may be as safe and as effective as KMC.

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