Neurobehavioural assessment of skin-to-skin effects on reaction to pain in preterm infants: a randomized, controlled within-subject trial

Acta Paediatr. 2008 Feb;97(2):171-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2007.00607.x. Epub 2008 Jan 3.


Objective: To assess the immediate and sustained effects of Kangaroo Care on reaction to pain of premature infants.

Patients and methods: A controlled, within-subject randomized study, performed in a large neonatal intensive care unit. Thirty premature infants were observed with blood test stick (BT) or without the blood test stick (W) procedure, either during Kangaroo care (K) or during standard within-crib care (C). Each of the four conditions (BTK, WK, BTC, WC) was observed in four separate sessions: baseline session - 10 min; intervention (BT or W) - 2 min; posttest - 10 min and follow-up - 20 min, in crib (starting 1 h after treatment). For neurobehavioural assessment, the naturalistic observation method was adopted from the Newborn Individualized Developmental Care and Assessment Program (NIDCAP).

Results: During the BTK session (blood test stick with K-care), we observed a decrease in motor disorganization and extension movements and an increase in attention signs, both negative and positive. Significant neurobehavioural changes were sustained in the follow-up period after K-care in comparison to the within-crib-care intervention sessions.

Conclusions: K-care, as compared to within-crib condition, led to a decrease in stressful neurobehavioural signs after BT procedures in premature infants. Painful procedures such as the BT procedure in premature infants should be performed while the infants are being held in K-care position.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Infant Care / methods*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / physiology*
  • Pain*