Webcams can help improve early bonding between parents and premature babies, a study has found.
Researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) analysed the views of parents and professionals using webcams to assist the process.
The majority of parents quizzed in the study, published in BMC Pediatrics, benefited from seeing their baby 24 hours a day, seven days a week in neonatal units.
The team interviewed 30 mothers and fathers and 18 professionals, including nurses, midwives, nursery nurses and doctors, in a Scottish hospital over a six-month period.
Parents said webcams gave them an increased feeling of closeness, enhanced emotional well-being and improved post-birth recovery. The technology also increased the involvement of family and friends through shared images from the post-natal area.
Those interviewed said webcams allowed them to “feel that they were with their baby” even during periods of separation.
They also said they became more responsive to their babies’ needs, and seeing their child helped mothers produce breast milk.
A small minority in the study, however, said the ability to see their baby round-the-clock heightened their anxiety rather than decreasing it, as the majority of parents reported.
Dr Susan Kerr, of GCU’s school of health and life sciences, said: “Our study appears to encourage the early bonding process between parents and their babies.
“The study is one of a few worldwide to have evaluated the use of webcam technology in neonatal units.
“Further work is required to assess the cost-effectiveness of webcam technology and also to evaluate its use in the family home following the mother’s discharge from hospital”.