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Horm Res. 2002;57(1-2):22-6.

Longitudinal assessment of pituitary-thyroid axis and adrenal function in preterm infants raised by 'kangaroo mother care'.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel.



To assess whether complete kangaroo mother care (KMC), a skin-to-skin contact intervention, would affect longitudinal/developmental patterns of hormonal change.


An open randomized controlled trial was conducted in a large tertiary care hospital, comparing KMC and traditional care for newborn infants weighing less than 2,001 g. Eighty-seven healthy preterm (<37 weeks gestational age) infants from this study provided three blood-spot samples on filter paper: at randomization (postnatal age 1-5 days), 2 weeks later, and at calculated term (41 weeks gestational age). They met a number of additional inclusion criteria including discharge from the hospital within the first postnatal week. The levels of 17alpha-hydroxy-progesterone (17-OHP), thyroxine-stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroxine (T(4)) were assessed by radioimmunoassay. Birth weight (<1,800 or > or =1,800 g) and prenatal maternal corticosteroid treatment were taken into account in the analysis.


Complete KMC includes early discharge, positioning the infant on the parent's chest in an upright position, 24 h/day in skin-to-skin contact, and breast-feeding. In the traditional care group, infants were discharged according to routine hospital practice.


Levels of 17-OHP and TSH decreased significantly from eligibility to calculated term while T(4) levels did not change significantly over time. Most importantly, overall, treatment (KMC) did not interact with the pattern of physiological change.


Maturation of the pituitary-thyroid axis and adrenal function is apparently not compromised by KMC, at least in healthy preterm infants.

Copyright 2002 S. Karger AG, Basel

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