Overcoming Financial Barriers to Caring for Preterm Infants
This pilot randomized controlled trial, conducted in collaboration with Tufts Medical Center, aims to determine whether financial support can increase caregivers’ ability to breastfeed and provide skin-to-skin care to preterm infants. The study team's central hypothesis is that low-income households cannot afford to spend extended periods of time in the hospital after preterm delivery, which makes both exclusive breastfeeding and continued skin-to-skin care – two highly effective practices to improve preterm health – very difficult. The objective of the pilot study is to develop a protocol for a financial support system targeted to low-income mothers with babies in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). The primary outcomes of the pilot trial will be breastfeeding initiation and continuation and the number of hours of skin-to-skin care provided to the infant. Estimates of the impact of financial transfers on these outcomes will be of critical importance to power a larger subsequent effectiveness trial assessing program impact on key child health outcomes.