Objective: To evaluate the effects of maternal-infant skin-to-skin contact (SSC) vs standard contact (SC) on low-birth-weight infants' physiological profile, maternal milk production, and duration of breast-feeding.
Design: Prospective, randomized, interventional study with cohort followed up for 6 months after discharge from the hospital.
Setting: Special care nursery with follow-up telephone calls after discharge from the hospital.
Patients: Fifty infants, with birth weights less than 1500 g and whose mothers planned to breast-feed, randomized to 2 groups: SSC (experimental) and SC (control).
Intervention: In the SSC group, infants were clothed in diaper and held upright between mothers' breasts; both mother and infant were covered with a blanket. In the SC group, infants were clothed, wrapped in blankets, and held cradled in mother's arms.
Main outcome measures: Infant physiological data, ie, oxygen saturation, heart rate, respiratory rate, and axillary temperature; maternal milk production; and duration of breast-feeding.
Results: Oxygen saturation was higher during SSC than during SC (P < .001); 11% of the oxygen saturation recordings during SSC vs 24% during SC indicated the values less than 90% (P < .001). A more stable milk production was noted in the SSC group. No differences were noted in infant temperature, heart rate, or respiratory rate. Ninety percent of mothers in the SSC group vs 61% in the SC group continued breast-feeding for the duration of the infants' hospitalization (P < .05), and 50% in the SSC group vs 11% in the SC continued breast-feeding through 1 month after discharge (P < .01).
Conclusions: During SSC with their mothers, low-birth-weight infants maintain a higher oxygen saturation and are less likely to have desaturation to less than 90% oxygen than are infants exposed to SC. Mothers in the SSC group are more likely to continue breast-feeding until 1 month after discharge.