“Neonatal care during the COVID-19 pandemic –

a global survey of parents’ experiences regarding infant and family-centred developmental care”

It is undisputed that the involvement of parents in the care of their beloved child is of paramount importance, making infant and family-centred developmental care (IFCDC) a cornerstone of successful neonatal care. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, several measures were put in place to stem the virus transmission. Unfavourably, these measures severely affect the provision of basic elements of IFCDC, such as having access to neonatal care units and thus its overall quality. Ultimately, the COVID-19 pandemic led to a separation between parents and vulnerable babies at their very start of life with still unforeseen consequences for the baby, their parents and the entire family alike that most probably will be worse than the potential risk for a virus infection.

Research for parents and with parents

Through our global survey, we sought to give parents their voice back and to carefully listen to their experiences during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey was translated into 23 languages and completed by more than 2100 parents from 56 countries worldwide whose babies received special/intensive care. The first results have now been published and can be accessed here:

Overall, the findings show an alarming rate of parents who were not permitted to be present with their hospitalised baby, who had to cope with severe separation policies and enormous interventions in the provision of evidence-based elements of perinatal care and IFCDC.

“Given the disruption of neonatal health services, recent research highlights that the positive impact on survival of KMC – involving close contact between infant and a parent (usually the mother) – far outweighs the small risk of death due to the virus infection. Ensuring close contact between infants and their parents is hence crucial, as the separation puts these vulnerable infants at additional risk of death and long-term complications.”

(Kostenzer J, Hoffmann J, von Rosenstiel-Pulver C, Walsh A, Zimmermann LJI, Mader S. (2021) Neonatal care during the COVID-19 pandemic – a global survey of parents’ experiences regarding infant and family-centred developmental care)

Global network of supporters

A warm thank you goes to our network and collaboration partners COINN (Council of International Neonatal Nurses), ESPR (European Society for Paediatric Research), the NIDCAP (Newborn Individualized Developmental Care and Assessment Program) federation, UENPS (Union of European Neonatal & Perinatal Societies), the many parent organisations across the globe who made this research possible and, in particular, to all parents for their engagement. We are proud to react “Together for better care!” and to advocate for a Zero Separation.

EFCNI received an earmarked donation from Novartis Pharma AG in support of this study.

For further information about the survey, visit page