Premature babies face a whole bunch of problems on account of the fact that they're not finished turning into babies yet. Modern technology has come a long way in helping keep premature babies alive and kicking, but until now only hippies fully appreciated the benefits of cuddles and sunlight.
They're still wrong about that shitty salt deodorant, though.
It's called kangaroo care, because it's similar to the way that kangaroos carry their young. We don't mean that you have to slice open your abdomen and slip your baby into a skin pouch. Just holding your baby against your skin for a few hours a day has shown to lead to decreased infections and mortality, as well as increasing sleep and stabilizing temperature.
And it wouldn't hurt to do it by a window. One of the main problems that underdeveloped babies can face is something called hyperbilirubinemia, which is worth at least 800 points in Words With Friends, but you're probably more familiar with the term "jaundice." It turns the skin yellow, which in addition to clashing with the upholstery, means a buildup of bilirubin, which is more or less blood poop.
That's right -- this little guy is filled with more than one kind of poop.
Thankfully, bilirubin is broken down by sunlight, so a few hours a day of cuddling your baby in a sunny room is a pretty effective treatment for jaundice not caused by being a career alcoholic. In fact, at least one study has shown that the day star was 6.5 times as effective as phototherapy from a machine. Score one for Mother Nature.
So there you have it. Babies work like Birdman.
And while we're on the subject of saving babies ...
One of the first things that you do after squeezing out a mewling infant is cut off the pulsating flesh cord that connects you, because it's weird and kind of gross. But hang on to those scissors -- research suggests that waiting just a few minutes before you cut the cord can prevent a whole bunch of problems further down the road.
"Hey, hold off on those scissors. Let's watch Timecop first."
Researchers in Sweden studied 400 full-term infants and found that babies who had their umbilical cords clamped three minutes after delivery had iron levels 45 percent higher than babies who had their cords clamped after 10 seconds. This meant a reduced incidence in anemia, the disease caused by not having enough red blood cells carrying oxygen around your body (with oxygen ordinarily being beneficial to your health).
Until recently, the benefits of keeping the cord attached after the baby pops out weren't really known, but apparently the birthing mechanism prompts the umbilical cord to start downloading a whole bunch of useful crap into your baby that it's going to need in the coming months. Just because it's outside the oven doesn't mean that this bun is fully baked, which is why the umbilical cord delivers stem cells, which help fix up any structural damage your baby might have.
You can just tell this one's broken.
Cutting the cord off too early interrupts this delivery, which may risk complications. So although it's gross and quivering, it may benefit you to hum the length of your average pop song before you snip.
Antibiotics have a downside -- the more you use them, the more bacteria learn how to ignore them. As a result, antibiotics wind up helping create treatment-resistant superbugs, which is the exact opposite of what you want your antibiotics to accomplish. But what choice do you really have? Well, science is here to tell you, slather some honey on that wound, sucka.
"He's bleeding internally! Grab a funnel and spread those ass cheeks."
In the rare case where folk wisdom actually lines up with real life, honey, especially honey made from the manuka flower, is wildly successful in treating wounds because of how it reacts with bacteria -- it blocks their ability to stick onto the wound. In one trial, researchers tried using honey against MRSA, one of the aforementioned superbugs that evolved from the "staph" infection that now has the ability to create sores of biblical proportions. The result? Seventy percent of the honey-glazed patients had MRSA-free wounds, while only one guy on the regular treatment kicked the disease.
But there's another, more incredible discovery to come out of this. Another study showed that honey might actually help to reverse MRSA's resistance to antibiotics, making them useful again. Holy shit! Thanks, bees!
"It's cool. You can pay us back by not driving our species to extinction."