Kangaroo father care: A pilot feasibility study of physiologic, biologic, and psychosocial measures to capture the effects of father–infant and mother–infant skin-to-skin contact in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Jamie L. Vogl*, Emma C. Dunne, Claire Liu, Allison Bradley, Alina Rwei, Erin K. Lonergan, Bradley S. Hopkins, Sung Soo Kwak, Clarissa D. Simon, Casey M. Rand, John A. Rogers, Debra E. Weese-Mayer, Craig F. Garfield

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Robust literature supports the positive effects of kangaroo mother care (KMC) on infant physiologic stability and parent–infant bonding in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Comparatively little is known about kangaroo father care (KFC) in the NICU, and KFC implementation has been limited. Our pilot feasibility study objective was to examine KFC effects on premature infants and fathers as compared to KMC. Parents of preterm NICU infants independently completed a 90-min Kangaroo Care (KC) session on consecutive days. Infant heart rate variability (HRV) and apnea/periodicity measures were compared (pre-KC to KC; KFC to KMC). Additionally, we assessed the feasibility of administering three psychosocial questionnaires to fathers and mothers in the NICU and after discharge. Ten preterm infants completed 20 KC sessions (334/7–374/7 weeks post-menstrual age). Results demonstrated similar infant physiologic responses between KMC and KFC, including significant differences in measures of HRV (p <.05) between KC and non-KC periods. Eighty-eight percentage of questionnaires administered were completed, supporting the utilization of these instruments in future research of this population. If confirmed, these preliminary results identify an opportunity to objectively assess KFC effects, supporting the development of empirically based KFC programs benefitting NICU families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1521-1533
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
Volume63
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2021

Keywords

  • Kangaroo Care
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
  • fathers
  • heart rate variability
  • periodic breathing
  • prematurity
  • skin-to-skin contact

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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