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Keywords

congenital heart disease, infant physiology, kangaroo care, skin to skin contact

 

Authors

  1. Harrison, Tondi M. PhD, RN, CPNP
  2. Ludington-Hoe, Susan PhD, CNM, FAAN

Abstract

Background: Infants with complex congenital heart disease requiring surgical intervention within the first days or weeks of life may be the most seriously ill infants needing intensive nursing and medical care. Skin-to-skin contact (SSC) is well accepted and practiced as a positive therapeutic intervention in premature infants but is not routinely offered to infants in cardiac intensive care units. The physiologic effects of SSC in the congenital heart disease population must be examined before recommending incorporation of SSC into standard care routines.

 

Objective: The purpose of this case study was to describe the physiologic response to a single session of SSC in an 18-day-old infant with hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

 

Methods: Repeated measures of heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, blood pressure, and temperature were recorded 30 minutes before SSC, during SSC (including interruptions for bottle and breast feedings), and 10 minutes after SSC was completed.

 

Results: All physiologic parameters were clinically acceptable throughout the 135-minute observation.

 

Conclusion: This case study provides beginning evidence that SSC is safe in full-term infants after surgery for complex congenital heart disease. Further research with a larger sample is needed to examine the effects of SSC on infant physiology before surgery and earlier in the postoperative time period as well as on additional outcomes such as length of stay, maternal-infant interaction, and neurodevelopment.