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Kangaroo Mother Care and the Bonding Hypothesis

PEDIATRICS Vol. 102 No. 2 August 1998, p. e17

Réjean Tessier*, Marta Cristo, Stella Velez, Marta Girón, SW; Zita Figueroa de Calume, Juan G. Ruiz-Paláez, Yves Charpak, and Nathalie Charpak

From the *School of Psychology, Laval University, Québec, Canada; ISS-World Lab, Kangaroo Mother Care Program, Clinica del Nino, Santa Fe de Bogotá, Colombia; - Clinical Epidemiology Unit, Faculty of Medicine, Javeriana University, Santa Fe de Bogotá, Colombia; and EVAL (Institut pour l'Évaluation dans le domaine Médical, Médico-social et de Santé Publique), Paris, France.


Kangaroo mother care (KMC) was first suggested in 1978 by Dr Edgar Rey in Bogotá, Colombia. It was developed initially as a way of compensating for the overcrowding and scarcity of resources in hospitals caring for low birth weight (LBW) infants.1, 2The term KMC is derived from practice similarities to marsupial caregiving, ie, the premature infant is kept warm in the maternal pouch and close to the breasts for unlimited feeding. Dr Hector Martinez and Dr Luis Navarette continued and built on Rey’s seminal work. In addition, since the end of the 1980s, a new KMC model has been developed by a team from the Colombian Department of Social Security and the World Laboratory (a Swiss nongovernmental organization).3 Some developing countries4,5 with funding from UNICEF, and developed countries including the United States,6 England,7 France,8 Sweden,9 Canada,10 and the Netherlands11 have introduced skin-to-skin contact in nurseries for premature infants. It is generally hypothesized that this type of care promotes physiological stability and enhances the parent-child relationship.

Most of the published studies on skin-to-skin contact have focused on the physiological benefits to the infant. Only a few have addressed the parent and child’s psychological well-being (for a review, see Anderson12 and Charpak et al1). The objective of this study is to investigate the impact of KMC on the mother’s perception of giving birth as well as on the mother and child’s responsiveness to each other. Based on the general bonding hypothesis, we suggest that KMC creates a family atmosphere in which parents become more exposed to sensitive caregiving.

Pediatrics (ISSN 0031 4005). © 1998 by the American Academy of Pediatrics


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