- Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) or skin-to-skin contact is a relatively new concept that has been proven to be a successful support system for newborn preterm babies. This technique has come to the rescue of triplets this time.
- When Renuka Hadapad gave birth to triplets in the last week of October 2016 in Koppal, Karnataka, she was more than happy. Despite a seamless birth in a district hospital, the triplets were born each weighing less than 1,500 grams, making it difficult for them to be nursed, maintain temperature or gain weight.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends ‘Kangaroo Mother Care’ or continuous skin-to-skin contact between mothers and low-birth weight or premature babies, and exclusive breastfeeding, as soon as they are born.
“The care and support given by the staff of the district hospital made me feel like this is my second home,” said Renuka to the WHO nurses at the hospital, who took to caring for her triplet’s non-stop while her husband worked. After 28 days in the hospital, the babies – named Mahadevi, Shrushti and Lakshmi – were discharged.
Returning home, however, posed new challenges. Kangaroo Mother Care is only effective when done for long periods of time until a baby weighs over 2,500 grams or no longer wants to stay confined in skin-to-skin contact. Finding the time for three babies is surely no simple feat.
Finally, on 7 March 2017, the triplets crossed the 2,500 gram mark. “Kangaroo Mother Care successfully helped in saving these very low birth weight triplets,” said Dr Dhan Reddy, Koppal district surgeon.
With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the WHO is working in three districts in India among others.
“Success in scaling up Kangaroo Mother Care in Ethiopia and India means that we can apply the lessons worldwide,” said Dr Rajiv Bahl, coordinator for research and development, WHO Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health.
Dr Sunil Janged, Director of Jivanta Children’s Hospital, Udaipur said KMC it is a very useful method. He said, “KMC is widely used by us for preterm babies. It is highly useful and furthermore, has many health benefits for the kids. It helps in averting infections in kids and maintains temperature while it also helps in decreasing the hospitalization for the kids.”
The WHO is also coordinating a multi-country research initiative in Ghana, India, Malawi, Nigeria and Tanzania to test the survival benefit of initiating Kangaroo Mother Care immediately after birth.
“I am pleased with this on-going work of scaling up Kangaroo Mother Care,” said Dr Henk Bekedam WHO Country Representative for India. “If immediate Kangaroo Mother Care is found to be effective in reducing deaths, it will benefit more families like Renuka and her triplets.”