A Test of Kangaroo Care on Preterm Infant Breastfeeding

J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2016 Jan-Feb;45(1):45-61. doi: 10.1016/j.jogn.2015.10.004. Epub 2015 Nov 25.


Objective: To test the effects of kangaroo care (KC) on breastfeeding outcomes in preterm infants compared with two control groups and to explore whether maternal-infant characteristics and the mother's choice to use KC were related to breastfeeding measures.

Design: Secondary analysis of a multisite, stratified, randomized three-arm trial. The treatment groups used KC, auditory-tactile-visual-vestibular (ATVV) intervention, or received preterm infant care information.

Setting: Neonatal intensive care units from 4 hospitals in the United States from 2006 to 2011.

Participants: Racially diverse mothers (N = 231) and their preterm infants born weighing less than 1,750 g.

Methods: Mothers and their infants were enrolled once the infants were no longer critically ill, weighed at least 1,000 g, and could be safely held outside the incubator by parents. Participants were instructed by study nurses; those allocated to the KC or ATVV groups were asked to engage in these interactions with their infants for a minimum of 3 times a week in the hospital and at home until their infants reached age 2 months adjusted for prematurity.

Results: Feeding at the breast during hospitalization, the duration of postdischarge breastfeeding, and breastfeeding exclusivity after hospital discharge did not differ statistically among the treatment groups. Regardless of group assignment, married, older, and more educated women were more likely to feed at the breast during hospitalization. Mothers who practiced KC, regardless of randomly allocated group, were more likely to provide their milk than those who did not practice KC. Breastfeeding duration was greatest among more educated women.

Conclusion: As implemented in this study, assignment to the KC group did not appear to influence the measured breastfeeding outcomes.

Keywords: NICU; infant feeding; kangaroo care; massage; mothers; neonatal intensive care unit; preterm infants.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding* / methods
  • Breast Feeding* / psychology
  • Breast Feeding* / statistics & numerical data
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal / statistics & numerical data
  • Kangaroo-Mother Care Method* / methods
  • Kangaroo-Mother Care Method* / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior / psychology*
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Statistics as Topic
  • United States