Thursday, October 1, 1998 Published at 23:09 GMT 00:09 UK
Kangaroo care counters the cold
Incubators normally treat babies with hypothermia
Hugging a baby can restore its body temperature faster than a high-tech incubator, researchers have found.
"Kangaroo care" is researchers' nickname for skin-to-skin (STS) heating, a technique used to protect a baby from hypothermia.
Babies who are born prematurely are more likely to have a low core body temperature which makes them particularly vulnerable to hypothermia.
The technique is simple - the mother holds her child in contact with her skin.
The baby absorbs excess body heat from its mother until it reaches normal body temperature, 37ºC.
The technique also carries a reduced risk of overheating because when the baby reaches 37º any excess heat will be passed to the mother.
Even moderate heat stress can lead to breathing problems.
The team found that after four hours, 90% of babies who received kangaroo care had regained normal body temperature.
This compared to 60% of babies placed in incubators.
The researchers say the technique also:
They concluded: "STS care was at least as effective as incubator care.
"It may be an important approach for countries with limited resources."