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J Fam Psychol. 2003 Mar;17(1):94-107.

Testing a family intervention hypothesis: the contribution of mother-infant skin-to-skin contact (kangaroo care) to family interaction, proximity, and touch.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel 52900.


The provision of maternal-infant body contact during a period of maternal separation was examined for its effects on parent-infant and triadic interactions. Participants were 146 three-month-old preterm infants and their parents, half of whom received skin-to-skin contact, or kangaroo care (KC), in the neonatal nursery. Global relational style and micro-patterns of proximity and touch were coded. Following KC, mothers and fathers were more sensitive and less intrusive, infants showed less negative affect, and family style was more cohesive. Among KC families, maternal and paternal affectionate touch of infant and spouse was more frequent, spouses remained in closer proximity, and infant proximity position was conducive to mutual gaze and touch during triadic play. The role of touch as a constituent of the co-regulatory parent-infant and triadic systems and the effects of maternal contact on mothering, co-parenting, and family processes are discussed.

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