Kangaroo-A-Thon promotes skin-to-skin contact with NICU babies and their parents


For Immediate Release

April 9 , 2015


(LONDON, Ontario) – The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at London Health Sciences Centre’s (LHSC) Children’s Hospital is holding its first ever Kangaroo-A-Thon to increase awareness of the importance of skin-to-skin holding, or kangaroo care, for premature or ill infants and their families. Taking place from April 10 to April 24, this initiative is in response to a friendly challenge issued by Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre to other NICU’s in the region to achieve over 605 hours of skin-to-skin holding in a two-week period.

Kangaroo care, named for the similarity to how certain marsupials carry their young, has been occurring in the LHSC NICU for approximately twenty years, and has recently evolved to encourage the parents of even the smallest babies to initiate skin-to-skin earlier.

“Many parents are hesitant to hold their baby who may be extremely low-birth weight and requiring ventilator support, but the benefits of time spent in close contact with mom or dad - brain development, attachment building, immunity boosting – make it imperative for them to try,” says Dr. Kevin Coughlin, Neonatal Perinatal Medicine, LHSC.

Parents like Philip Wiebe and Laura Sanderson were extremely hesitant to hold their premature son Ben when he was born at 27 weeks. “We assumed that he needed to stay in his little sterile incubator, totally isolated from us for his best chances to grow and develop. We didn’t realize that we would be helped and encouraged by the staff on the NICU to hold Ben in our arms every day,” says Sanderson. At just 9 days old, Ben was in his mother’s, then father’s arms, and is now taken out of this incubator daily for approximately two hours at a time to nuzzle in and sleep on their chest.

“Providing this comfort is extremely important for parents and babies in the NICU,” says Evelyn McGovern, RN, Children’s Care, LHSC. “These parents often haven’t held their babies, and have been physically separated by machines and tubes since birth.”

Children’s Hospital promotes family integrated care and either parent can participate in the kangaroo care which routinely takes about two hours. During skin-to-skin contact the baby is continuously monitored.

For babies whose condition prevents them from coming out of the incubator, modified kangaroo care is an option. Modified kangaroo care includes encircling and hand hugging by positioning the parent beside the incubator with the side down.

“Every parent should have the opportunity to touch and hold their baby,” says Sanderson. “We are so grateful that the staff and physicians here helped and encouraged us to have this special time with Ben.”

The recliners or ‘kangaroo chairs’ as they are referred to by staff and parents, used in the NICU at LHSC’s Children’s Hospital were donated by Children’s Health Foundation and its donors.

Members of the Media are invited to interview parents and staff involved in the Kangaroo-A-Thon on Thursday April 9 at 3 p.m. Please contact Sarah Muto to arrange for the interview.

About London Health Science Centre
London Health Sciences Centre has been at the forefront of medicine in Canada for 140 years and offers the broadest range of specialized clinical services in Ontario. Building on the traditions of its founding hospitals to provide compassionate care in an academic teaching setting, London Health Sciences Centre is home to Children’s Hospital, University Hospital, Victoria Hospital, the Kidney Care Centre, two family medical centres, and two research institutes – Children’s Health Research Institute and Lawson Health Research Institute. As a leader in medical discovery and health research, London Health Sciences Centre has a history of over 65 international and national firsts and attracts top clinicians and researchers from around the world. As a regional referral centre, London Health Sciences Centre cares for the most medically complex patients including critically injured adults and children in southwestern Ontario and beyond. The hospital’s nearly 15,000 staff, physicians, students and volunteers provide care for more than one million patient visits a year. For more information visit www.lhsc.on.ca

About Children’s Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre
Children’s Hospital has been caring for children and their families since 1922. Children’s Hospital is the regional paediatric referral centre for Southwestern Ontario, serving an area of over 29,000 square kilometers and a population base including more than 500,000 children. Children’s Hospital cares for the most medically complex and critically ill patients in our region. Last year, 106,000 paediatric patients were cared for at Children’s Hospital, including over 36,000 children who received emergency medical treatment. Learn more at http://www.lhsc.on.ca/About_Us/Childrens_Hospital/

About Children’s Health Foundation
Children’s Health Foundation raises and grants funds to support specialized paediatric patient care and equipment at Children’s Hospital, the delivery of exceptional programs, long-term therapy and rehabilitation services at Thames Valley Children’s Centre and research into the causes and cures of children’s health challenges at Children’s Health Research Institute.

The funds raised by Children’s Health Foundation empower paediatric health care partners to serve all of the unique needs of young patients from across Southwestern Ontario and parts of Northern Ontario. From innovative care and rehabilitation to ground-breaking research, Children’s Health Foundation positively impacts each component of paediatric health care, helping kids to reach their full potential and lead happy, healthy lives. Learn more at www.childhealth.ca



For media inquiries contact:

Sarah Muto
Corporate Communications and Public Relations
London Health Sciences Centre
519-685-8500, ext. 74772

After-hours and weekend assistance:

Call LHSC Switchboard at 519-685-8500 and ask to page the communication consultant on-call.


Visit the LHSC Media Room website at www.lhsc.on.ca/media.

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