The Effect of Paternal Skin-To-Skin Care: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Control Trials

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Background: Research about skin-To-skin care (SSC) experiences in early period after birth has focused on mothers and infants. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the outcomes of paternal skin-To-skin care (P-SSC) in both fathers and infants. Methods: The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), PubMed/MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, PsycInfo, Airiti Library, and Google Scholar were searched for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that reported outcomes of P-SSC in both fathers and infants. We calculated pooled mean differences (MDs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) using RevMan 5.3 for the meta-Analysis [PROSPERO: CRD42018106790]. Results: Seven RCTs including a total of 552 participants were eligible for inclusion. Compared to the maternal skin-To-skin care (M-SSC), fathers in the P-SSC exhibited no significant differences in salivary oxytocin levels (MD:-0.35 pg/mL; 95% CI:-0.75, 0.05), salivary cortisol levels (MD: 0.25 μg/dL; 95% CI:-0.82, 1.33), or anxiety scores (MD:-0.17; 95% CI:-0.57, 0.22) during the period of SSC. Similarly, there were no significant differences in the salivary cortisol levels (MD:-0.11 μg/dL; 95% CI:-0.05, 0.28) among preterm infants between the 2 groups. However, the crying time was less among full-Term infants in the P-SSC group compared with infants in the incubator care or cot care groups. Implications for Practice and Research: P-SSC had similar effects as M-SSC on stress-related outcomes during and after SSC among fathers and infants in the early stages after birth. We recommend that P-SSC be implemented in the early stages after birth. Further RCTs with a longitudinal design and large samples are needed to better understand the long-Term effects of P-SSC on fathers and infants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E22-E32
JournalAdvances in Neonatal Care
Issue number1
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • anxiety
  • behavior
  • meta-Analysis
  • paternal skin-To-skin care
  • salivary cortisol
  • salivary oxytocin
  • stress
  • systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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