A Prospective Study on the Efficacy and Safety of Kangaroo Mother Care as an Alternative Means of Transport of Preterm and Term Small-for-Gestational Age Infants
Background. The unavailability of transport incubators in resource-limited areas increases the risk for hypothermia in low birthweight neonates requiring transfer to another hospital. The kangaroo mother care (KMC) position may be a better alternative than swaddling the neonates during transport.
Objective. To determine the safety and efficacy of KMC as an alternative means of transport of preterm and term small-for-gestational age (SGA) infants who need to be transferred to a higher level of care. Specifically, it aims to establish if KMC is safe and efficacious in terms of thermoregulation during inter-facility transfers. It also aims to determine the impact of transport distance from the referring hospital, age of gestation, sex, birthweight, and Apgar score on the efficacy of KMC in preventing hypothermia.
Methods. We did a prospective, single-blinded, parallel-randomized controlled trial from September 2016 to October 2017 from a community-based primary care facility to a tertiary government hospital. We included newborn preterm infants and term SGA infants weighing 1200–1800 grams, delivered at health centers, district and provincial hospitals who needed to be transferred for a higher level of care. Outcomes included physiologic variables such as temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate. We conducted statistical analysis using t-test, risk ratio, and multiple regression analysis.
Results. Thirty-one neonates were randomized to KMC transport (n=15) and conventional transport (swaddled) (n=16). Fifty percent of the swaddled infants developed hypothermia against none in the KMC infants. The risk of hypothermia was reduced by 93.75% in the neonates transported in KMC. The gestational age, birthweight, sex, Apgar scores and distance travelled had no confounding effect on the neonates’ temperature during transport.
Conclusions. Kangaroo mother care transport is a safe, effective, and low-cost alternative in inter-facility neonatal transport especially in limited-resource areas.