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Premature birth constitutes a big percentage of infant deaths worldwide. While that thought is a nightmare for parents, the grave dangers associated with premature birth can be dealt with in a controlled manner but that journey starts with avoiding conditions that lead to infections. On World Prematurity Day 2023 which is celebrated every year on November 17, WION got in touch with Dr. Nishant Bansal, an expert in the field and currently employed as a Consultant Paediatrician and Neonatologist, at Motherhood Hospitals in Noida as he spoke about raising awareness and starting conversations on the same. 

One-fifth of the 15 million preterm babies born worldwide are born in India. Hence, India has a great need for neonatal critical care facilities, since prematurity is the world’s greatest cause of death for infants under the age of five. The expert explains that in medical terms, babies born alive before the full 37 weeks of pregnancy are referred to as preterm. 

While talking to Dr Nishant, we understood that one of the best methods available for providing care to preterm babies is skin-to-skin care aka the Kangaroo Care which was popularised by Colombian neonatologist Dr. Edgar Rey Sanabria. In environments without apparatus to keep babies warm, this is the best that we can offer preterm babies.

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 It was also established that an uncontrolled low body temperature raises an infant’s chance of mortality. As further advantages for moms and infants were discovered, the strategy was embraced globally even with or without access to technologically advanced settings.

There are numerous advantages to kangaroo care, especially for premature or underweight babies.

Here is what Kangaroo Care does:

Regulate the heart rate of your infant.

Reduce any discomfort your child may have during certain procedures, such as a heel prick test.

Make your baby’s breathing more regular and better regulated.

Promote your child’s development

Encourage restful sleep, which includes longer cycles and quieter periods.

Reduce the chance that your child will suffer a life-threatening infection, or succumb to hypothermia 

Other benefits of Kangaroo Care or Skin-To-Skin contact include:

Bonding with your child

Establish a nursing relationship and produce more milk which helps the child to gain healthy weight as most premature children are underweight

Have faith in your abilities to tend to your baby’s needs and provide for them.

Things to avoid during Kangaroo Care:

Avoid skin-to-skin contact if you are unwell: Your baby’s immune system takes two to three months to reach full maturity. Therefore, it’s imperative to restrict your baby’s exposure to germs during these formative stages. If you are ill, ask someone else to look after you until you feel better. Alternatively, find out with your doctor whether doing Kangaroo Care while wearing a facemask is okay for you.

Place phones and other electronics away: These may divert your attention from your child. It’s crucial to concentrate on your infant while you’re holding them in order to foster a stronger link between you two.

Make sure you have healthy and clean skin: If you have cold sores, open wounds, or a rash, avoid using Kangaroo Care. Before anything else, wash your skin and avoid using any lotions or scents.

Don’t smoke: Your baby is exposed to numerous health concerns from second-hand smoke.

Every year, World Prematurity Day is celebrated on November 17.