Kangaroo mother care had a protective effect on the volume of brain structures in young adults born preterm

The protective effects of Kangaroo mother care (KMC) on the neurodevelopment of preterm infants are well known however the persistence of its benefits beyond infancy is not known. A recent study determined whether providing KMC in infancy affected brain volumes in young adulthood.

Standardized cognitive, memory and motor skills tests were employed to determine the brain volumes of 20-year-old adults who were enrolled in this randomized controlled trial of KMC versus incubator care. 

The results were as follows-

  • A total of 178 adults born preterm were included in the study of which 97 had received KMC while 81 were incubator care controls. 
  • The bivariate analysis demonstrated larger volumes of total grey matter, basal nuclei and cerebellum in individuals who had received KMC, along with better organized white matter, indicating that the volumes of the main brain structures associated with intelligence, attention, memory and coordination be larger in the KMC group. 
  • A direct relationship between brain volumes and duration of KMC was shown by multivariate linear regression analysis after controlling for potential confounders.

Thus this study demonstrated the neuroprotective effects of KMC for preterm infants to persist even beyond childhood and improve their lifetime functionality and quality of life.

Source: Acta Paediatrica, January 2022, Early view. https://doi.org/10.1111/apa.16265

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