'Kangaroo care jackets' to save premature babies

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Varanasi, Dec 12: With an aim to protect pre-term or very low birth weight (VLBW) babies, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS-New Delhi) has come out with special 'jackets' for newly turned mothers to help them provide the much needed 'Kangaroo Care' to the extra-sensitive new borns.

The three bag-like attires A, B and C carved out of lycra and cotton will be worn by newly turned mothers of pre-term babies around the neck, thus enabling them to cuddle their new borns between their breasts just like the Kangaroo mother shields its off springs through the warmth of her god-gifted sack.

''An estimated 2.5 crore neonates are born in the country every year, 30 per cent of which are pre-term (between 28 to 30 weeks) or of very low birth weight (VLBW), making them highly sensitive to temperature fluctuations and infections and thus demanding extra-care, Assistant professor at the Division of Neonatology, Department of Pediatrics, AIIMS, New Delhi, Ramesh Agrawal told UNI here. If not rendered due extra-care, these neonates can even die as estimates suggest that 30 per cent of the 10-12 lakh neonates who die annually are pre-term or VLBW babies,'' Dr Agrawal added.

Dr Agarwal was in the city to attend the four-day NEOCON-2006, 26th annual convention of National Neonatology Forum which concluded at the Benaras Hindu University (BHU) here on sunday.

Studies have proved that Kangaroo care by mothers to new borns especially the VLBW babies not only saves them from infections and temperature changes, but also assists their proper physical and mental development.

''It is keeping this in mind that we at the AIIMS designed the Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) jackets or attires to help mothers provide the protective warmth to the pre-term babies, subsequently having an overall impact on the Infant Mortality Rate in the country which stood 60 deaths per thousand births presently,'' Dr Agarwal said.

Off the 2.5 crore neonates who are born annually in the country, 30 per cent are born at hospitals, while a whopping 70 per cent are delivered in homes, where the necessary care is absent for the new borns especially the VLBW babies, who are associated with increased risk of morbidity and mortality.

''The special KMC jackets costing Rs 200 each addresses this problem by providing an inexpensive, simple and effective method of improving outcomes of LBW neonates especially in resource poor settings,'' Dr Agarwal added.

The KMC jacket will result in warmth to the baby, exclusive breast feeding, improvement in weight gain and growth, reduction of hospital stay and cost, minimising the chances of the VLBW baby contracting infection, besides promoting mother-baby bonding, Dr Agarawal said.

Dr Agrawal said the baby cuddled inside the KMC jacket will also increase the breast-feeding capacity of the mothers as studies have shown that Kangaroo Mother Care, first recognised medically by Colombian experts, increases mothers breast milk.

Realising the urgent need of KMC, also forming important part of ambitious National Rural Health Mission, a network of five institutions in India at Lucknow, New Delhi, Chandigarh, Chennai and Mumbai was created to catalyse promotion of ''kangaroo mother care'' in India through dissemination of information and skills.

The KMC Network aims at disseminating resource material on KMC (adapted to Indian conditions) among mothers and healthcare providers, disseminating counselling and clinical skills in KMC among nurses and physicians by conducting skills-based workshops in the country.

It also works at catalysing operationalisation of KMC practice at selected institutions by on-site training of health personnel, coordination of in-service training of nurses and physicians at the network of KMC demonstration centres in the country and launching an India KMC website to disseminate information on KMC to mothers and families, health professionals, and other stake-holders, Dr Agarwal informed.


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