Pilot study demonstrates that salivary oxytocin can be measured unobtrusively in preterm infants

Article

Kommers, D.R., Broeren, M.A.C., Andriessen, P., Oei, S.G., Feijs, L.M.G. & Bambang Oetomo, S. (2017). Pilot study demonstrates that salivary oxytocin can be measured unobtrusively in preterm infants. Acta Pediatrica, 106(1), 34-42. In Scopus Cited 2 times.

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Abstract

 

Aim
This study assessed the feasibility and obtrusiveness of measuring salivary oxytocin in preterm infants receiving Kangaroo care, because this is a period of maximal bonding or co-regulation. We also analysed possible influential determinants, including maternal oxytocin.

Methods
The saliva of preterm infants and their mothers was collected prior to, and during, Kangaroo care using cotton swabs and pooled into vials until sufficient volumes were obtained to measure oxytocin levels using a radioimmunoassay. The obtrusiveness of the infants’ collections was measured with a Likert scale.

Results
Saliva was collected unobtrusively prior to, and during, 30 Kangaroo care sessions in 21 preterm infants. This resulted in three vials with sufficient volumes of before-Kangaroo care saliva and three with during-Kangaroo care saliva. Oxytocin was detectable in all six vials. The Kangaroo care duration and the intensity of the mother–infant interaction before and during Kangaroo care seemed to be the most important determinants, and these should preferably be standardised in any future trials.

Conclusion
Oxytocin was measured unobtrusively in the pooled saliva of preterm infants both before and during Kangaroo care and could therefore be investigated as a biomarker in future studies.