Kangaroo Mother Care versus Incubator in Transporting Stable Preterm Neonates: A Randomized Controlled Trial

  • Renelyn P. Ignacio Newborn Intensive Care Unit, Department of Pediatrics, Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center
  • Maria Esterlita T. Villanueva-Uy Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine and Philippine General Hospital, University of the Philippines Manila
Keywords: Kangaroo Mother Care, Incubator, Transport, Preterm


Background. Transporting preterm neonates soon after birth entails risks. Only one study among many about the beneficial effects of Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) had cited it as a safe and effective alternative to transport incubators.

Objective. To determine if KMC transport could be an alternative to transport incubators by comparing the physiological outcomes of the two transport methods.

Methods. This is a parallel non-blinded randomized-controlled trial funded by KMC Foundation, Philippines, Inc, of physiologically stable preterm neonates weighing ≤ 2200 grams delivered at a tertiary government hospital from September 10, 2011, to April 18, 2012. After obtaining written consent from their mothers, participants were randomly assigned to either the intervention or control group. The intervention groups were transported from the delivery room to the NICU while on skin-to-skin contact with the caregiver. In contrast, those in the control group were placed in a transport incubator. Vital signs, oxygen saturation, and blood glucose were measured before transport and upon NICU arrival. Adverse effects were monitored. Data were recorded using a standard database.

Results. Ninety-two participants were recruited, forty-six in each arm. Two dropped out. The mean change in heart rate in the KMC transport decreased by 1.6 beats per minute; respiratory rate decreased by 0.18 breaths per minute, the temperature increased by 0.01°C, oxygen saturation decreased by 0.07%, blood glucose decreased by 5.07 mg/dL. The measured physiological parameters were not statistically significant between the two groups. In the KMC transport, there was a decreasing trend in the incidence of hypothermia, hypoglycemia, tachypnea, and tachycardia.

Conclusion. There are no significant differences in the heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature, oxygen saturation, and blood glucose levels among preterm neonates on KMC transport compared with preterm neonates on transport incubators, which is the current standard of care. The study showed that KMC transport is equally effective as a transport incubator. Hence, in low-resource settings, KMC transport may be used as a safe and effective neonatal transport.