e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

Kangaroo mother care to reduce morbidity and mortality and improve growth in low-birth-weight infants

Every year, more than 20 million infants are born weighing less than 2.5kg – over 96% of them in developing countries. These low-birth-weight (LBW) infants are at increased risk of early growth retardation, infectious disease, developmental delay and death during infancy and childhood.

Conventional neonatal care of LBW infants is expensive and needs both highly skilled personnel and permanent logistic support. Evidence suggests that kangaroo mother care is a safe and effective alternative to conventional neonatal care, especially in under-resourced settings and can reduce morbidity and mortality in LBW infants as well as improve growth and breastfeeding. Kangaroo mother care involves:

  • early, continuous and prolonged skin-to-skin contact between a mother and her newborn
  • frequent and exclusive breastfeeding
  • early discharge from hospital.

WHO recommendations

Further research is needed before specific recommendations can be made.

WHO documents

GRC-approved guidelines

Status: not currently available

Other guidance documents


Related Cochrane reviews
Other related systematic reviews
Clinical trials

Last update:

27 July 2015 10:51 CEST

Category 2 intervention

Systematic review(s) have been conducted but no recent guidelines yet available that have been approved by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee


There is not yet any implementation information related to this intervention in GINA