Initiation and duration of skin-to-skin contact for extremely and very preterm infants: A register study

Acta Paediatr. 2022 Sep;111(9):1715-1721. doi: 10.1111/apa.16433. Epub 2022 Jun 10.


Aim: This study sought to describe how skin-to-skin contact between extremely and very preterm infants and their parents is practised in Swedish neonatal units.

Methods: Data from the Swedish Neonatal Quality Register from 2020 to 2021 were extracted to analyse initiation time and daily duration of skin-to-skin contact in different gestational ages and regions.

Results: Of the 1475 infants in the cohort, mean (range) gestational age was 28 weeks (22-31), and mean (range) birthweight was 1205 g (360-2810). For extremely preterm infants (<28 weeks), median (interquartile range) skin-to-skin contact initiation time was at 88 postnatal hours (48-156) and 5% had skin-to-skin contact on the first day. For very preterm infants (<32 weeks), the corresponding numbers were 14 h (4-36) and 34%. Median (interquartile range) daily skin-to-skin contact duration for the entire cohort during the first day, first three and seven days and the remaining hospital stay was 0 (0-0), 0.7 (0-2.7), 1.6 (0.4-3.6) and 4.4 (3.0-6.1) h, respectively.

Conclusion: A minority of extremely and very preterm infants were exposed to skin-to-skin contact on the first postnatal day. Daily duration during the first week of life amounted to less than two hours. Initiation time and daily duration varied among gestational ages.

Keywords: kangaroo mother care; neonatal intensive care unit; preterm infants; register study; skin-to-skin contact.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases*
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal