Preterm birth disrupts the development of the brain and other critical organs of the infant body. Since the brain is one of the last organs to finish developing during pregnancy, the risk for substantial neurological deficits increases as the gestational age decreases. One way to combat these deficits is to reconnect the preterm infant with the mother via skin-to-skin contact, also known as kangaroo care (KC). This intimate touch helps to replicate aspects of the environment that the preterm infant experienced in utero. The purpose of this literature review was to analyze the current literature to better understand the effects that KC may have on facilitating neurodevelopment of preterm infants in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs). Emphasis was placed on neurophysiologic functioning, autonomic functioning, and neurobehavioral functioning. A database search of CINAHL Plus with Full Text, PsycINFO, MEDLINE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition was conducted, and a total of six articles were reviewed based on their relevance and application towards this thesis. KC is a low-cost, relatively easy intervention to initiate that can have positive impacts on many aspects of preterm infant growth and maturation. There is limited research regarding the use of KC as an intervention to support neurodevelopment, especially with regards to long-term effects. Existing research supports the use of KC as an intervention to facilitate neurodevelopment in preterm infants in the NICU.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Quelly, Susan


Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)


College of Nursing




Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date

May 2016