Separating newborns from mothers are always a risk and a new study shows that about 1,25,000 lives could be saved by keeping them together to ensure skin-to-skin contact at the time of Covid-19 pandemic.
In several countries, newborn babies are routinely separated from their mothers. This has put newborn at a higher risk of death and lifelong health complications, according to a new research, by WHO and partners. The Lancet Eclinical Medicine published the research paper.
WHO Director for Maternal Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health Anshu Banerjee noted that disruptions to essential health services at the time of Covid -19 pandemic severely affected the quality of care provided to some of the most vulnerable babies. This included their right to lifesaving contact they need with their parents, Anshu Banerjee said.
The WHO said that the risk was higher in the poorest countries where the greatest number of preterm births and infant deaths occur and disruptions to Kangaroo mother care (skin to-skin contact and breastfeeding) happen.
Anshu Banerjee said that decades of progress in reducing child deaths would be jeopardized “if we do not act now to protect and improve quality care services for mothers and newborns, and expand coverage of lifesaving interventions like Kangaroo mother care.”
Kangaroo mother care
The kangaroo mother care model is particularly important for babies born preterm before 37 weeks) or at low birth weight (under 2.5 kilogrammes). This method reduces infant deaths by 40 per cent, severe infections by 65 per cent and hypothermia by more than 70 per cent. Director of Health at the Ministry of Health in Malawi and one of the authors Queen Dube noted that Kangaroo Mother Care is one of the most cost-effective ways to protect small and sick newboms.
The health organisation advised mothers to continue to share a room with their babies from birth. They should breastfeed and have skin-to-skin contact even during suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infections.
Low COVID risk
The researchers said that studies showed no symptoms or mild disease from COVID-19 in infected newborns, with low risk of neonatal death. However, they said that infection during pregnancy might result in increased risk of preterm birth. This means preterm babies and their parents should get the right care during the COVID-19 pandemic.