Short duration of skin-to-skin contact: effects on growth and breastfeeding

J Paediatr Child Health. 2007 Dec;43(12):831-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.2007.01198.x. Epub 2007 Sep 4.


Aim: To compare weight gain and head growth in very-low-birthweight (VLBW, <1501 g) infants with or without exposure to short duration of skin-to-skin contact (STSC) during their stay in a neonatal intensive care unit.

Methods: Stable VLBW infants were randomised into either STSC or control group. Parents of the STSC group were encouraged to provide STSC for at least 1 h daily.

Results: One hundred and forty-six infants were randomised, but only 126 were enrolled (STSC group: n = 64;

Controls: n = 62). Infants in the STSC group had better mean weekly increase in head circumference (1.0 cm (SD = 0.3) vs. 0.7 cm (SD = 0.3); P < 0.0001) and higher breastfeeding rate at discharge (29.7% vs. 14.5%; P = 0.04). Although the mean duration of maternal education was longer in STSC (13.0 vs. 12.1 years; P = 0.04) than in controls, linear regression analysis showed that the significant predictors associated with weekly head growth were exposure to STSC (unstandardised coefficient: 0.2; 95% confidence intervals (CI): 0.1, 0.3; P < 0.0001) and head circumference of infants at the time of enrollment (unstandardised coefficient: -0.05; 95% CI: -08, -0.03; P < 0.0001); the number of years of maternal education was not a significant predictor. Logistic regression analysis showed that the only significant predictors of successful breastfeeding at discharge were receiving expressed breast milk at enrollment (adjusted OR: 4.1; 95% CI: 1.4, 11.7; P = 0.009) and receiving expressed breast milk during intervention period (adjusted OR: 8.3; 95% CI: 2.8, 24.4; P < 0.0001); exposure to STSC and maternal education were not significant predictors.

Conclusion: Exposure to short duration of STSC may promote head growth in VLBW infants.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding*
  • Female
  • Growth*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal
  • Malaysia
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Skin*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Gain