Effect of polyethylene bag to prevent heat loss in preterm infants at birth: a randomized controlled trial

Songkiat Chantaroj, Wilaiporn Techasatid
Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand 2011, 94 Suppl 7: S32-7

BACKGROUND: Hypothermia at birth has been associated with increased morbidity and mortality in preterm infants.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effect of wrap with polyethylene bag at birth on admission temperatures and the incidences of hypothermia on admission in preterm infants gestational age < or = 32 weeks.

MATERIAL AND METHOD: A randomized controlled trial was conducted in thirty-eight preterm infants with gestational age < or = 32 weeks. The infants were assigned and placed in polyethylene bag immediately after birth without drying under a radiant warmer or received standard thermal care including being dried and placed under a radiant warmer. Rectal temperatures were recorded on admission to neonatal unit and incidences o hypothermia were compared between the two groups.

RESULTS: The body temperatures of preterm infants with polyethylene bag were significantly higher than those of the control group {median 36.5 degrees C (range 35.5 degrees C-37.2 degrees C) vs. 35.9 degrees C (range 34.9 degrees C-36.5 degrees C), p < 0.001}. On admission, the incidence of hypothermia in preterm infants wrap with polyethylene bag was significantly lower than in the control group (26% vs. 89%, p < 0.001) with a risk reduction of 0.63 (95% CI 0.39-0.87) and a number needed to treat of 1.58.

CONCLUSION: Polyethylene bag prevents heat loss at delivery in preterm infant less than 32 weeks gestation. Incidence of hypothermia was significantly reduced by use of polyethylene bag, a simple and inexpensive intervention.

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