Mother and newborn skin-to-skin contact in sub-Saharan Africa: prevalence and predictors

Aboagye, Richard Gyan, Boah, Michael, Okyere, Joshua, Ahinkorah, Bright Opoku, Seidu, Abdul-Aziz, Ameyaw, Edward Kwabena, Mwamba, Bupe, and Yaya, Sanni (2022) Mother and newborn skin-to-skin contact in sub-Saharan Africa: prevalence and predictors. BMJ Global Health, 7. e007731.

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Introduction: Skin-to-skin contact is an evidence-based intervention that signifies a situation whereby a newborn is positioned directly on the mother’s abdomen or chest in order for them to have direct ventral-to-ventral skin contact. The act of skin-to-skin contact begins immediately after delivery to about 23 hours afterwards. Evidence shows that skin-to-skin contact is important in improving child health outcomes. Nevertheless, evidence on its prevalence and predictors in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) remains sparse. The study, therefore, estimated the prevalence of skin-to-skin contact between mothers and their newborns, as well as its predictors.

Methods: Using data from the recent Demographic and Health Survey conducted between 2015 and 2020 from 17 countries in SSA, we included 131 094 women who gave birth in the last 5 years preceding the survey in the final analysis. We used percentages to summarise the prevalence of skin-to-skin contact. Multilevel logistic regression analysis was used to determine the predictors of skin-to-skin contact. Adjusted odds ratios (ORs) with their corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were used to present the results of the regression analysis.

Results: Approximately 42% (41.7 to 42.2) of mothers practiced newborn skin-skin contact. The highest prevalence was found in Benin (75.1% (74.1 to 76.0)) and the lowest prevalence in Nigeria (11.7% (11.2 to 12.1)). The likelihood of skin-to-skin contact was higher among women covered by health insurance, those who delivered in health facilities, those in the richest wealth index, women who attended 1–3 antenatal care (ANC) visits and four or more ANC visits, and those with secondary or higher education. The odds of skin-to-skin contact was low among women who delivered by caesarean section (adjusted OR=0.15; 95% CI 0.13 to 0.16).

Conclusion: Considering that less than half of the surveyed women practiced skin-to-skin contact, it is expedient for intensification of advocacy and strict supervision of the practice within the included countries. Informal educational programmes can also be rolled out through various media platforms to sensitise the public and healthcare providers on the need for skin-to-skin contact. These will help maximise the full benefits of skin-to-skin contact and expedite prospects of achieving the Sustainable Development Goal targets 3.1 and 3.2.

Item ID: 73420
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2059-7908
Keywords: maternal health, health education and promotion, public health, prevention strategies, child health
Copyright Information: © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2022. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ. This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:
Date Deposited: 06 Apr 2022 08:42
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420606 Social determinants of health @ 100%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2004 Public health (excl. specific population health) > 200401 Behaviour and health @ 100%
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