Good news to share ! (October 2016)
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) have approved the funding of our research project, called “Immediate Kangaroo Mother Care Study”. This will take place in Malawi, Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria and India, and will test whether skin-to-skin contact (SSC) started immediately after birth and practised continuously even on unstable babies, can lower mortality by 20%. It will test this on some 5000 babies all born weighing less than 1800g. The project will launch during 2017, recruitment will be completed after two years, so we should have results at the beginning of 2020. The WHO will be first hand responsible for the project and the budget, and will subcontract to Karolinska Institute (KI, Sweden) the responsibility for the intervention. I (Nils) will be sharing this responsibility with Bjorn Westrup, working with him from KI.
The above study is focused only on lowering mortality, with focus on low income countries where mortality is as high as 20% in such small babies. We see this as the first building block of a larger research project we call IPISTOSS (Immediate Parent-Infant Skin-TO-Skin Study). We are now optimistic that we will be able to find further funding to study the exact same intervention in two middle income countries. We are calling these ‘mechanistic studies’, which will research the latest cutting edge neuroscience to explain why IPISTOSS works. We think this is necessary, so that IPISTOSS is not only seen as a low income country solution, but as best practice, evidence based medicine, that should be practised in high income countries as standard of care. Low income country neonatologists will only promote that what they have been taught by high income countries. In fact, the intervention that we will use in the LIC studies funded by BMGF, and the middle income countries we still seek funding for, will be identical to that currently being researched in our primary research sites in Sweden and Norway.