The impact of partial kangaroo mother care on growth rates and duration of hospital stay of low birth weight infants at the Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi

  • AC Mwendwa
  • RN Musoke
  • DC Wamalwa


Objective: To determine the effect of partial Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) on growth rates and duration of hospital stay of Low Birth Weight (LBW) infants.
Design: Unblinded, randomised clinical controlled trial.
Setting: Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya.
Subjects: Over a nine month period, consecutive recruitment of eligible LBW infants weighing 1000g to 1750g was done until a sample of 166 infants was reached.
Intervention: Kangaroo mother care was practised over an eight hour period per day for the intervention group while the controls remained in incubators or cots. Weight, head circumference, and mid upper arm circumference were monitored for all infants till discharge at 1800g.
Results: Of the 166 infants recruited 157 were followed up to discharge. Baseline characteristics were similar for the two groups except for mother’s age, with the KMC group mothers having a mean age of 26.5 years while the control group mothers had a mean age of 24 years, (p = 0.04). The KMC group had significantly higher growth rates as shown by the higher mean weight gain of 22.5g/kg/day compared with 16.7g/kg/day for the control group, (p < 0.001); higher mean head circumference gain of 0.91cm/week compared with 0.54cm/week for the control group, (p < 0.001) and higher mean mid upper arm circumference gain of 0.76cm/week compared with 0.48cm/week for the control group, (p = 0.002). Although overall duration of stay was similar between study arms, when infants were stratified into those above or below 1500g KMC infants’
duration of stay was significantly shorter than those in regular care. Using logistic regression, KMC was the strongest predictor for mean weight, mean head circumference and mean MUAC gain while mother’s age (older) was the strongest predictor for mean duration of stay with KMC being an independent predictor of duration of stay. Conclusion: Low birth weight infants in this cohort achieved rates of growth within the recommended intrauterine growth but babies managed using partial KMC grew faster and were thus discharged earlier than those on standard of care. Since partial KMC was beneficial, it should be fully implemented for all eligible infants.

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