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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The first days and weeks for a premature baby are critical.

Now a study highlights how important skin to skin contact is for these babies.

Lucas and Theo Floren had a traumatic start in this world. Born at just 31 weeks, the twins spent their first weeks in neonatal intensive care.

“It was really scary and we didn’t know what was going to happen at that moment,” said Sara Froberg, Lucas and Theo’s mother.

Their parents couldn’t wait to finally hold them.

“It was amazing for both me and for them, to connect with them, to really calm them down,” she said of holding her newborns.

Like many NICUs around the country, NYU Langone Medical Center encourages Kangaroo care.

Premature and low birth weight babies get constant skin to skin contact from mom and dad.

Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended when possible.

“They’re close to the mothers or fathers they’re able to maintain normal temperatures, which helps them regulate their bodies better,” said Dr. Sean Bailey from NYU Langone Medical Center.

Now research finds that close contact is having long-lasting benefits.

A study in the journal Pediatrics shows babies who had Kangaroo care are thriving 20 years later.

“Having better jobs, having higher-functioning in society and making more money, and having more normal behaviors,” said Dr. Bailey.

The study also suggests families trained in Kangaroo care are likely to stay together and be more protective and nurturing.

“I think this is my start of bonding with them on a physical level,” said Patrik Floren, Lucas and Theo’s father. “There is no better feeling than just having them on your chest. It’s amazing.”

The boys are now 3 months old and growing each day. They’re still getting plenty of snuggles at home.

About 400,000 babies are born premature or low birth weight each year in the United States.


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