According to a new global report on premature birth, as many as half a million premature babies could be saved each year with the help of “kangaroo care.”
“Kangaroo care” is the practice of putting babies (especially premature babies) against the parent’s chest for extended skin-to-skin contact. According to a comprehensive, global survey of premature births put together by a group including the World Health Organization, this simple practice could help save up to 450,00 thousand babies, about half of the premature babies that die each year.
Every year 15 million babies are born prematurely. The majority of these births take place in the developing world, and only 10% survive compared with a 90% survival rate in industrialized countries like America.
Joy Lawn, lead author of the report, tells ABC News that the three top ways to reduce deaths from premature births are:
1. Kangaroo Care
3. Exclusive Breastfeeding
“It’s about keeping the babies warm, breastfeeding, and treating any new infections with antibiotics,” she said.
While premature births are much more dangerous in places like Africa, the US is still lagging behind other industrialized nations: America ranks 6th on the list of 184 countries with the highest rates of pre-term births, far higher than other rich countries.
Premature births are increasing in wealthier countries due to obesity, IVF and smoking. In poor countries the causes tend to be malnutrition, teen pregnancy, and lack of contraception (so women have babies spaced too closely).
Lawn hopes mothers in places like America will support efforts to help less fortunate mothers and babies in poorer countries.