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Kangaroo mother care after birth critical for saving lives – WHO

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Kangaroo mother care after birth critical for saving lives – WHO

Geneva, Nov 15 (Prensa Latina) The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday highly recommended the use of the so-called "kangaroo mother care", which involves skin-to-skin contact and exclusive breastfeeding, significantly improves a premature or low birthweight baby´s chances of survival.

The results of a new clinical trial published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, show that immediate kangaroo mother care, which involves skin-to-skin contact with the mother and exclusive breastfeeding, started as soon as a preterm or low birthweight baby is born, dramatically improves survival.

In addition, specialists reiterated the need for breastfeeding to improve health outcomes for newborns, as it is empirically proven to reduce the risk of infection compared with infant formula feeding.

WHO´s new guidelines, which take into account feedback from families collected in more than 200 studies, also called for strengthening emotional and financial support to caregivers.

“These recommendations make it clear that improving outcomes for newborns is not always about finding state-of-the-art technology-based solutions, but about ensuring access to basic health care,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

According to available estimates, 15 million babies are born prematurely each year, accounting for over one in 10 births worldwide, and an even greater number of children (more than 20 million) have low birth weight.

Prematurity is currently the leading cause of death among children under the age of five, according to the WHO report, and is on an upward trend in terms of numbers. While in high-income countries most babies born at 28 weeks or later survive, in poorer nations survival rates can be as low as 10%.

Experts say most premature babies can be saved by implementing feasible and effective measures, including health care before, during and after birth, prevention and treatment of common infections, and the kangaroo mother method.

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