Parents of premature babies are being encouraged to help make a difference in their child’s recovery by being involved more with their care.
A study involving 26 neonatal intensive care units found babies put on more weight when their parents took part in tasks usually reserved for nursing staff, reports 9 news.
The tasks included bathing, feeding, dressing, giving oral medication, taking the baby’s temperature and charting their growth and progress.
The program, called Family Integrated Care, was compared to standard practice.
At 21 days, infants in the trial program put on more weight, parents had lower levels of stress and, once discharged, mothers were more likely to breastfeed frequently.
The authors of the study found no differences in rates of mortality, duration of oxygen therapy or hospital stay.
They said weight gain in preterm infants is an important marker of positive brain development and can point to longer term benefits.
“Parents are too often perceived as visitors to the intensive care unit. Our findings challenge this approach,” said Dr Karel O’Brien, Department of Paediatrics at Sinai Health System in Canada.
“It has clearly shown benefits in outcomes in not only the babies, but also in the parents in terms of stress,” said neonatologist Dr Parag Mishra.
In the trial, parents had to commit to spending at least six hours a day, five days a week at their baby’s bedside.
The results of the trial were published this week in The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health journal.
Some parents have shared how they had to battle hospital staff to be allowed to assist with the care of their infant.
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