Neuro-Humoral Biomarkers for Kangaroo Mother Care
Vinod Bhutani of Stanford University in the U.S. will measure neurosteroid levels in infants from birth to 72 hours of age to determine whether they are affected by skin-to-skin contact (kangaroo mother care), thereby influencing neurodevelopment. Skin-to-skin contact between mother and child shortly after birth has been linked with improved infant growth, breastfeeding and attachment, and, for preterm infants, enhanced neurodevelopment. The biological basis for this in humans is unclear, however in horses, high levels of neuroactive steroids in newborn foals can induce abnormal behavior including a failure to breastfeed. They will track neurosteroid levels in 48 human infants, both full-term and late preterm, some of whom receive routine kangaroo mother care, to identify any associations between the two that could be used to identify potential neurodevelopmental defects that could be treated by kangaroo mother care.