The UN health agency has determined that allowing mothers and premature babies to have skin-to-skin contact from the start provides "major health benefits". Photo: AFP/File
health

Skin-to-skin contact key for premature baby survival, WHO says in shift

9 Comments

Skin-to-skin contact is key to improving survival of premature and small babies, the WHO said this week in a major overhaul of policy that previously called for the use of incubators.

The new guidelines mark a major turnaround in the way the U.N. health agency recommends neonatal intensive care be provided to tiny babies.

Allowing mothers or other caregivers and preterm babies to remain close from the start, without separation, boosts the chances of survival, Karen Edmond, a World Health Organization medical officer and pediatrician, told reporters in Geneva.

"The first embrace with a parent is not only emotionally important, but also absolutely critical for improving chances of survival and health outcomes for small and premature babies," she said.

The new guidelines for how to treat babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy or under 2.5 kilograms applies in all settings, WHO said.

Immediate skin-to-skin contact should be provided "even for babies who are unwell with breathing difficulties," it said, insisting: "they too need the close contact with their mother from birth."

Previously, the WHO had said that "unstable" newborns weighing less than two kilos at birth should be placed in incubators.

The WHO describes prematurity as an "urgent public health issue," with an estimated 15 million babies born preterm each year -- accounting for one in 10 births.

With its update Tuesday, the U.N. agency provided 25 recommendations on care of premature babies, including 11 that were new since the last update in 2015.

The guidelines cover things like nurturing care, care during illness, and stressing the importance of breastfeeding premature babies.

And for the first time ever, the guidelines also include recommendations on family involvement, including a call for intensive care units to restructure to allow the mother and baby to stay together.

It is important, Edmond said, to keep "the baby in skin-to-skin contact 24/7 even if the baby needs to be in... intensive care."

The guidelines also propose for the first time that increased emotional and financial support be given to caregivers of preterm babies.

"Parental leave is a must to help families care for the infant," Edmond said, adding that caregivers of preterm babies should be offered sufficient financial and workplace support, as well as home visits after discharge.

© 2022 AFP

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

9 Comments
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This is precisely the value of science and evidence based human therapeutic interventions, change of recommendations and guidelines when the evidence of something being better is collected and discussed between the experts.

This is a process the WHO as aa scientific global authority in public health does constantly and that still confuses people that do not understand (or have a deep systematic bias against) the scientific process, they think changing the guidelines means doing things wrong or being unreliable, but the huge value of the scientific institutions and why they are being recognized as authorities by the professionals in the field is precisely that above anything else the evidence is the one being the basis of the decisions.

Contact of the newborns with their mothers or even other members of their family has gained traction on recent years and evidence of the benefit accumulated, this has began to change how things are done in the neonatal wards and this shift is going to greatly benefit a lot of these children since now pediatricians can use the new guidelines to justify a change in procedures even if their locations or local association have not yet caught up with the evidence.

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Agree with what you say in a perfect academic sense, however these authorities are demonstrably influenced in their studies timing, tone, and in some cases, veracity by less than scientific pressures.

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Best selling author Ashley Montagu of Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin states that, "The skin is our outer nervous system".

In India there is a thousand year old tradition of massaging babies from birth to two or three years of age. Babies massaged daily grow up faster and healthier: physically, emotionally and mentally.

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Agree with what you say in a perfect academic sense, however these authorities are demonstrably influenced in their studies timing, tone, and in some cases, veracity by less than scientific pressures.

The point is not to be perfect, but the method is the best available to find out what is actually useful or not, so endless improving is the only realistic option. The best part of science is that it depends on the evidence and methods to be made avaliable for anybody else to examine and find any possible problem.

Best selling author Ashley Montagu of Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin states that, "The skin is our outer nervous system".

Is that quote precise? because it doesn't make much sense, the skin incorporates part of the outer nervous system, but does not constitute it, is like saying that the mouth is the external part of the skeleton.

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The new guidelines mark a major turnaround in the way the U.N. health agency recommends neonatal intensive care be provided to tiny babies.

Once again the WHO agency has to change its advice, after actual health experts make corrective determinations.

Similar to when the WHO first was advising people not to wear masks. Incredible as it seems. Even in the face of global health experts advising mask wearing. Anyone who was in Japan at the time would understand and would not disagree.

Stephen ChinToday  09:32 am JST

Best selling author Ashley Montagu of Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin states that, "The skin is our outer nervous system".

Yes, and many medical experts also refer to the skin as out outer nervous system (anyone in the science field knows this obvious fact).

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Once again the WHO agency has to change its advice, after actual health experts make corrective determinations.

This is what I am talking about, people that do not understand science thinking changing advice is something that should be criticized, it is the opposite, institutions that do not do that even when confronted with new evidence are the ones in the wrong.

Similar to when the WHO first was advising people not to wear masks. Incredible as it seems. Even in the face of global health experts advising mask wearing. Anyone who was in Japan at the time would understand and would not disagree.

Again spamming this false claim that the evidence of the use of masks for asymptoamtic people in the general population was available from before the pandemic? you have already recognized you were mistaken and this evidence do not exists, which means all the institutions that based their advice on the actually available evidence were completely justified on doing it.

Yes, and many medical experts also refer to the skin as out outer nervous system (anyone in the science field knows this obvious fact).

No, that is still false, as easy to see as you do not provide any source for this claim, which is yours alone, just make a baseless appeal to experts instead of recognizing it is just yours.

And no, the skin containing a part of the outer nervous system is very different from the skin being this part.

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But, knowing the UN, that won't apply to abortion survivor babies.

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Not only that but also breastfeeding is even MORE important as more and more so called mothers choose not to so they can keep their breast good looking and in shape based on my on some fake lies that breastfeeding causes breast deformation.

Skin to skin contact provides comfort not only for premature babies but for all human ages and animals too.

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Not only that but also breastfeeding is even MORE important as more and more so called " mothers " choose not to so they can keep their breasts good looking and in good shape based on some fake news and lies that breastfeeding causes breasts deformation.

Skin to skin contact provides comfort not only for premature babies but for all ages of humans and animals too.

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