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Developmental care: does it make a difference?


The term “Developmental Care” has been applied to a wide range of interventions. These may be centred on the nursing management of the infant, their environment or family-based interventions. The short-term targets of reducing infant stress and promoting stability have led to hopes that long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes may be improved by some or all of these practices. Thus far the paucity of large clinical trials consistently demonstrating positive outcomes has resulted in cynicism among many clinicians. However, the generally positive experiences of those units which have adopted many of these practices have contributed to the spread of these interventions in neonatal units. The emergence of large well-conducted clinical trials may provide the evidence to support or refute the outcome-based assumptions of developmental care.

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