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Unexpected collapse of apparently healthy newborn infants: the benefits and potential risks of skin-to-skin contact
  1. Peter J Fleming
  1. Correspondence to Dr Peter J Fleming, Centre for Child and Adolescent Health, School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Level D, St Michaels Hospital, Southwell Street, Bristol BS2 8EG, UK; peter.fleming{at}

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The routine separation of mothers and infants after delivery, a practice until recently very common in western midwifery and obstetric practice, may have significant negative effects on the establishment of normal mother–baby postnatal interactions, most importantly, the establishment of breast feeding.1 Recognition of the importance of close and direct contact between mothers and babies in the period immediately after delivery has led to the widespread adoption of the practice of ‘skin-to-skin’ care, in which the infant is placed naked and almost always prone directly onto the mother's chest very shortly after birth. The widely recognised potential benefits of early skin-to-skin contact, include improved prevalence and duration of breast feeding, improved maternal attachment behaviour and reduced crying by infants, together with improved cardiorespiratory stability for preterm infants.1 The Cochrane review notes that this practice has ‘no apparent short or long term negative effects’.1

The study by Becher and colleagues,2 investigating sudden unexpected postnatal collapse in the first 12 h after birth of apparently healthy term …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.