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Kangaroo mother care (KMC)

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

Kangaroo mother care (KMC)

What to study?

For Prelims: Features of KMC.

For Mains: Need for, it’s significance and relevance for India.

Context: In News very often.

About Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC):

It is the intervention where babies are placed in skin-to-skin contact with their mothers and exclusively breast fed. It has been recommended worldwide for stable low-birthweight newborns. WHO recommends that it be continued till baby attains a weight of 2.5 kg or till babies wriggle out.


KMC has 3 parts:

(1) Skin-to-skin contact

The more skin-to-skin contact between the baby’s front and the mother’s chest, the better. For comfort a small nappy is fine, and for warmth a cap may be used. Skin-to-skin contact should ideally start at birth, but is helpful at any time. It should ideally be continuous day and night, but even shorter periods are still helpful.

(2) Exclusive breastfeeding

Direct suckling by the baby from the breasts is all that is needed for most mothers and babies.  For very premature babies, expressing milk and addition of some essential nutrients may be needed.

(3) Support to the dyad

Whatever is needed for the medical, emotional, psychological and physical well being of mother and baby is provided to them, without separating them. This might mean adding ultramodern equipment if available, or purely intense psychological support in contexts with no resources. It can even mean going home very early.


  1. The results recently published in The Lancet show that kangaroo mother care improved survival by 30% and 25%, in babies till 28 days and six months of age, respectively. Such care for all infants with low birthweight could substantially reduce neonatal and infant mortality.
  2. Kangaroo mother care benefits are much beyond preventing hypothermia. The care improves exclusive breast feeding, duration of breast feeding, and also reduces infections.
  3. It also promotes growth and development of the child and increases mother child bonding, and also reduces stress in both mother and baby.

Relevance for India:

About 97% of the world’s low-weight babies are born in developing countries, and India accounts for about 40% of this, implying an urgent need of effective interventions. Therefore, it is imperative that such care is initiated at home in countries such as India. Kangaroo mother care has the potential to prevent thousands of neonatal deaths in our country if 90% coverage can be achieved.

Sources: the Hindu.