The Newborn Individualized Developmental Care and Assessment Program (NIDCAP), based on the Synactive Theory, is applied to improve brain development in premature and illness infants within a supportive environment. The NIDCAP has been used widely in the clinical setting. The aim of this article was to systematically review research published between 2000 and 2013 that relates to the evidence and application of developmental care. Most studies support the effectiveness of developmental care in terms of facilitating the healthy growth of premature infants, reducing oxygen dependence, reducing hospitalization times, and improving neurodevelopmental outcomes at two years of age. However, research results related to the effects of developmental care on neurodevelopmental outcomes from 2 years old to school age are not consistent. The heterogeneity of interventions, outcome indicators, and measurements in studies may contribute to these mixed results. In addition, as developmental care has been applied for many years, the contamination of participants in the supportive environment should be considered. Based on current evidence, neonatal healthcare professionals must recognize the core value of developmental care in dealing with premature infants and their families. In order to provide effective interventions for infants, further research is needed to assess the comparative effects of the single intervention and the holistic approach in developmental care.
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