A Meta-analysis on the Effect of Kangaroo Mother Care on Preterm Mortality
Background. Kangaroo mother care (KMC) is a low-cost but high-impact intervention for preterm and low birth weight (LBW) infants.
Objectives. To determine the effect of KMC on in-hospital mortality among preterm and LBW infants, taking into consideration their gestational age, birth weight, income category of the country of birth, and medical stability.
Materials and Methods. A comprehensive search of several databases, as well as local listings of research papers, was performed to look for randomized controlled studies with KMC as intervention, and mortality and length of hospitalization as outcome measures. The risk of bias and publication bias was assessed. We did subgroup analyses based on income category of the country of birth, gestational age, birth weight, and medical stability of the infants.
Results. Sixteen randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with 1738 infants in the KMC group and 1674 infants in the control group were included. Based on the GRADE approach, although all the studies were RCTs, the evidence is assessed as moderate certainty due to the nature of the intervention (KMC) that prevented blinding. There was a 41% reduction in risk of dying among preterm and low birth weight infants who received KMC compared to conventional medical care (3.86%% vs 6.87%; RR = 0.59, 95% CI 0.44, 0.79; I2 = 0%; number needed to treat for additional benefit (NNTB) = 34; 16 RCTs; 3,412 infants). Furthermore, there were also reductions in the risk of dying among infants who were <34 weeks AOG (KMC: 4.32% vs CMC: 8.17%, RR = 0.55, 95% CI 0.38, 0.79; I2 = 0%; NNTB = 26; 10 RCTs; 1795 infants), with birthweight of >1500 g (KMC: 3.97% vs CMC: 6.83%, RR = 0.60; 95% CI 0.45, 0.82; I2 = 0%; NNTB = 35; 10 RCTs; 2960 infants), and born in low- and middle income countries (LMIC) (3.77% vs 6.95%; RR = 0.57, 95% CI 0.43, 0.77; I2 = 0%; NNTB = 32; 14 RCTs; 3281 infants). There was a significant reduction in mortality (KMC: 11.05% vs CMC: 20.94%; RR = 0.54; 95% CI 0.34, 0.87; I2 = 0%; NNTB = 11; 5 RCTs; 387 infants) even among medically unstable infants who received KMC compared to those who did not. The length of hospitalization did not significantly differ between the KMC and the control groups. Due to high heterogeneity, subgroup analyses were performed, which showed a trend towards a shorter length of hospital stay among preterm infants <34 weeks AOG, with birthweight ≥1500 g, medically unstable during admission, and belonging to LMIC but did not reach statistical significance.
Conclusion. There was moderate certainty evidence that KMC can decrease mortality among preterm and LBW infants. Furthermore, KMC was beneficial among relatively more premature, bigger, medically unstable preterm infants and born in low to middle-income countries.