South African Family Practice

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Good short-term outcome of kangaroo mother care in low birth weight infants in a rural South African hospital

A N Rodriguez, M Nel, H Dippenaar, E A Prinsloo


The aim of the study was to determine the outcome of kangaroo mother care (KMC) in low birth weight infants at a community hospital.

This descriptive study included 87 mothers and their low birth weight infants who were in a stable condition and eligible for KMC at Dr JS Moroka Hospital, Thaba Nchu. The infants were assessed four times: at birth, twice during hospitalisation, and a week after discharge. Infants received breast milk exclusively.

Regarding the mothers' obstetric history (n=87), gravidity ranged from 1 to 7 (median 3), with a 43% incidence of miscarriage. The median birth weight of the infants (n=87) was 1.5 kg (first assessment), the discharge weight (third assessment) was 1.8 kg, and a week after discharge (fourth assessment) it was 2.2 kg. Initially the infants lost weight significantly from birth to the second assessment (95% CI for median decrease [-0.02; -0.01]), but significantly gained weight from the second to the third (95% CI for median decrease [0.27; 0.33]) and from the third to the fourth assessment (95% CI for median decrease [0.32; 0.45]). Approximately half (49%) of the infants had developed jaundice by the time of second assessment. These babies had a significantly lower birth weight [0.12;0.30].

Our findings confirm that infants with a low birth weight treated with KMC can have a good growth pattern, and exclusive breast milk is sufficient to guarantee such growth. Kangaroo mother care is a safe method for stable infants with a low birth weight in a community hospital.

South African Family Practice Vol. 49 (5) 2007: pp. 15

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