Reducing hypothermia in preterm infants with polyethylene wrap

Jaafar Rohana, Wan Khairina, Nem Yun Boo, Ishak Shareena
Pediatrics International: Official Journal of the Japan Pediatric Society 2011, 53 (4): 468-74

BACKGROUND: Occlusive plastic applied immediately after birth to reduce evaporative heat loss has been proven effective in preterm infants <28 weeks' gestation. However its effectiveness on preterm infants >28 weeks' gestation has not been shown. This study aimed to determine the effect of occlusive wrap at birth on the temperature at neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) admission among infants of greater than or equal to 24 weeks' and less than 34 weeks' gestation.

METHODS: Study infants were randomly assigned to "wrap" or "control" groups. Newborns in the wrap group were wrapped with polyethylene plastic sheets within the first min after birth. Infants randomized to the control group were dried immediately after birth with warmed towels under a warmer, according to the guidelines of Neonatal Resuscitation. Infants' axillary temperatures were measured on admission to the NICU, and after having been stabilized in incubators in the NICU.

RESULTS: A total of 110 infants were recruited into the study. The mean admission temperature was significantly higher in the wrap group (35.8 vs 34.8°C, P < 0.01). Admission hypothermia (axillary temperature <36.5°C) was present in 38 (78%) and 58 (98%) infants in the wrap and control groups, respectively. Among infants of <28 weeks' gestation, the post-stabilization temperature was significantly higher in the wrap group.

CONCLUSIONS: Wrapping premature infants with gestational age <34 weeks in polyethylene plastics immediately after birth is associated with lower incidence of hypothermia.

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