December 21, 2005

John Kennell, M.D., and colleagues to receive award in Germany for fostering early parent-infant bonding

Marshall Klaus & John H. Kennell

Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics John H. Kennell, M.D. (on right in photo); 1951 medical alumnus and former faculty member Marshall Klaus, M.D. (on left in photo); and Dr. Klaus' wife, Phyllis, a social worker, will receive the Arnold Lucius Gesell Prize from the Theodor Hellbruegge Foundation in Munich, Germany, in early December 2005 "for their significant and outstanding lifetime accomplishments" in fostering early parent-infant development. The award will be given at an international symposium titled "Beginnings of Parent-Infant Bonding and Attachment: Pregnancy, Birth and the Role of Psychotherapy," to be held Dec. 2 and 3.

At the conference, Kennell also will speak about "The Power of Ongoing Support During Labor: The Effects on the Baby and Parents During the First Two Months." The Klauses will speak as well.

Drs. Kennell and Klaus conducted groundbreaking research on mother-infant bonding and the importance of continuous support for pregnant women during childbirth. Largely due to their research on bonding, many hospitals now offer 24-hour visitation to prematurely born or ill babies, early contact, and "rooming in" for healthy babies. Their work also has altered the care of pregnant women by introducing the concept of a caregiver known as a doula. Their doula-related work helped decrease the length of labor by 25 percent, cut in half the rate of cesarean-section births, and resulted in improved maternal mental health and infant care by the mother. Additional research on the care of mothers whose infants had died helped increase appreciation for the grieving process to ultimately enhance the bonding of such women and their future children.

In an eight-year project at the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama in Guatemala City, which involved two large hospitals and many Case medical students, Drs. Kennell and Klaus demonstrated the value of early contact, suckling and rooming in for healthy mothers and babies in markedly improving the success of breast-feeding over a baby's first year of life. This work was part of the basis of UNICEF's 1991 Baby Friendly Initiative, which has been adopted in many parts of the world, including 3,800 hospitals in China, 1,400 in Thailand, and 1,200 in the Philippines.

Kennell and the Klauses have written several books together, including Bonding: Building the Foundations of Secure Attachment and Independence, and Mothering the Mother: How a Doula Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier, and Healthier Birth.

Drs. Kennell and Klaus each received the C. Anderson Aldrich Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the field of child development, from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), in 1984 and 1983, respectively.

For more information: George Stamatis 216-368-3635.

Posted by: Heidi Cool, December 21, 2005 10:06 AM | News Topics: Awards, School of Medicine

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