Combining kangaroo care with live harp music

You might think that an Israeli Medical Association report called Combining Kangaroo Care and Live Harp Music Therapy in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Setting is the first medical study of the combined effects, on newborns, of kangaroo care and music therapy. Not so.

The invention of kangaroo care (also called kangaroo therapy) is widely attributed to a pair of doctors in Colombia in the late 1970s. Initially, both the idea and the name triggered scepticism. Thus the appearance in 1990 of a paper called Kangaroo Care: Not a Useless Therapy, in a magazine published by America’s National Association of Neonatal Nurses.

The idea of kangaroo care is for premature babies to spend most of their time being held or pressed against the mother, the two maintaining direct “skin-to-skin” contact. This was meant as a substitute for incubators in places where those were unavailable. Later, some doctors and nurses began recommending that even the most modern hospitals adopt the practice….

So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian.