1. Beal, Judy A. DNSc, PNP, RN
  2. Wood, Sylvia H. MSN, CNM, RN

Article Content

Dodd, V. L. (2005).Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing,34(1), 218-232.


This comprehensive review article summarized 66 research studies published since 1985 on kangaroo care (KC) as a developmental intervention. The author searched nursing, medical, and child development research literature through PubMed. An extensive review of the literature focused on the following topics: the historical perspective of KC as a developmental intervention; the impact of KC on the central nervous system including temperature regulation, heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygenation, physiologic safety, and developmental needs of preterm infants; and the relationships between KC and parenting outcomes and infant growth parameters. While the majority of the studies reviewed were descriptive in nature (thereby limiting generalizability of results), several interesting findings were reported. The author concluded from the studies reviewed that KC is physiologically safe for premature infants and that the benefit of KC in terms of parent-infant attachment as well as infant growth and development is strongly substantiated. Specifically, body temperature of most premature infants older than 28 weeks is stable following KC, but nurses should watch for overwarming with a subsequent increase of apnea and decrease in weight gain in some infants. Additionally, most studies reported no heart rate changes following KC, but all concluded that careful monitoring during KC is still necessary. The same recommendations were given in relation to respiratory rates and oxygenation. While it makes sense that an intervention that promotes attachment and the development of self-regulation should enhance infant development, the studies are less conclusive as to the benefits of KC on weight gain. The author concluded that KC is safe and physiologically beneficial for monitored premature infants. Questions remain regarding first-time KC experience for parents that might cause increased stress, the effects of repeated KC on stabilization of vital signs, how control-group infants are positioned, and limited time of KC episodes. Further research must be conducted examining the physiologic benefits of KC; however, it may be concluded that as long as premature infants are monitored, KC is safe. Further benefits related to parental attachment as well as the development of self-regulation in premature infants is strongly supported.


Comment by Judy Beal