On August 15th, 2017, Dr. Marshall Klaus pioneer neonatologist and Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine sadly passed away at the age of 90, at his home near San Francisco, California.
In the 1960s, after noticing that mothers released from the neonatal intensive care unit struggled to form an attachment to their infants, Dr. Klaus began his research into mother-baby bonding. With his friend and colleague Dr. John Kennell, he conducted the earliest studies on the benefits of continuous labor support. His work was instrumental in Lamaze International on Healthy Birth Practices (“Bring a loved one, friend or doula for continuous support” and “Keep mother and baby together, it’s best for mother, baby and breastfeeding”).
Dr. Klaus explored early ideas on welcoming families into special care nurseries and keeping mothers and babies together postpartum. He insisted parents have access to their newborns in the hospital. He carried out early research on supporting families on the death of a baby. His work with Dr. Kennell helped in the creation of UNICEF’s 1991 Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, a global effort to implement practices that protect, promote, and support breastfeeding.
Dr. Klaus was the author of many books, articles and research papers. His work has been translated into many different languages around the world. In 1992, Dr. Klaus, along with Penny Simkin, John Kennell, Phyllis Klaus and Annie Kennedy founded the world’s most respected doula organization DONA International.
“Dr. Klaus’ life’s work has always been to bring compassion, care, and sensitivity to families during the most vulnerable period of their lives. He worked to protect the bond between the newborn and their parent, to offer physical and emotional support to laboring families and the same support through skilled care during the postpartum period.”
We extend our sincere condolences to his wife, Phyllis Klaus, their children, family, and friends. This humane man will be remembered by both families and professionals with the deepest gratitude.