Studies show skin-to-skin care accelerates electroencelaphographic signs of brain maturity in pre-term infants (White, R.  The Newborn Intensive Care Unit Environment of Care: How We Got Here, Where We're Headed, and Why. Seminars in Perinatology) and also increases breastfeeding.
The infant brain grows in size and complexity by 400 percent in the third trimester. So when premature babies are in the NICU their brains are developing faster than at any other time in life. This growth is influenced by external stimuli. These babies are impacted by lights, sound and touch. Noise is disruptive and precipitates apnea and desaturation - White, 2011.
Benefits of single patient rooms
From Children's Hospitals Today, Fall 2011
Research shows that when mother and newborn stay together, it improves neonatal outcomes.
- One recent Stockholm study suggested that unlimited parent presence in the NICU enhanced the parent's role in care and reduced intensive care length of stay (LOS) and total length of stay. In premature infants, total LOS was 5.3 days shorter in the group of babies whose parents had unlimited access to the NICU.
The Brown Center for the Study of Children at Risk released preliminary study results, comparing outcomes of children admitted to the single-family room NICU in its first 18 months (Women & Infants Hospital in Providence, RI), to those of children who stayed in the former open-bay NICU during its last two years of operation early returns show average LOS is down from 74 days to 56 days for infants less than 1,500 grams.
Single-family room NICU babies showing significant neuro-behavioral improvements compared to open-bay NICU babies, including:
- Improved attention, thermal regulation and quality of movement, with less hypotonia
- Lower arousal and excitability [Lester, B. (2011) Infant Neurobehavioral Development. Seminars in Perinatology]