Implications of Kangaroo Care for Growth and Development in Preterm Infants


  • Virginia L. Dodd

    Corresponding author
    1. Virginia L. Dodd, RNC, PhD, is a staff nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit at the Connecticut Children's Medical Center, Manchester.
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Address for correspondence: Virginia L. Dodd, RNC, PhD, Connecticut Children's Medical Center, 131 Lake St., Manchester, CT 06040. E-mail:


Objective: To review research on kangaroo care with implications for growth and development in preterm infants.

Data Sources: Nursing, medical, and child development research literature was searched through PubMed through 2003 using the search terms kangaroo Care, skin-to-skin, growth/development, and premature infants.

Study Selection: Randomized controlled trials, pretest-posttest designs, and other comparative studies of kangaroo care were reviewed. Reports exploring parent perspectives were examined for attachment and parent-infant interaction findings. Theory and research regarding growth in preterm infants were explored.

Data Extraction: Research on topics of kangaroo care, skin-to-skin contact, preterm infant growth, preterm infant weight gain, and failure to thrive was evaluated.

Data Synthesis: Research on kangaroo care reports physiologic safety for preterm infants and increased attachment for parents. Attachment promotes nurturing behaviors that support growth and development. Weight gain as a benefit of kangaroo care remains in question.

Conclusions: Kangaroo care is safe for preterm infants and may have important benefits for growth and development. Suggestions are made for future research on effects of KC on preterm infants.