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Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 1992 May;32(2):117-9.

Temperature drop in normal term newborn infants born at the University Hospital, Kuala Lumpur.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University Hospital, Kuala Lumpur.


A prospective study of temperature drop in 141 normal term newborn infants delivered vaginally at the labour ward, University Hospital, Kuala Lumpur were studied. The effect of various manoeuvres on the temperature drop were also studied. They were randomized into 3 study groups, 63 cases where the babies were wiped with dry cloth alone, 37 cases where the babies were put into a plastic bag immediately after birth and lastly 41 cases where the babies were wiped with dry cloth and then inserted into a plastic bag. There was significant temperature drop in all the 3 groups maximum in the first 15 minutes and the fall continued for 1 hour after delivery (p less than 0.001). This shows that in an air-conditioned labour ward in a tropical country the temperature fall in newborn infants can be significant. This study also showed that plastic is a poor insulator against significant temperature drop.


Health workers in the labor ward at the University Hospital in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, wiped 104 normal, full-term, newborns with only a dry cloth and then wrapped 63 of then in dry linen, including the head, and placed the remaining 41 infants in a sealed plastic bag with an opening for the head and a small opening at the anus. They wrapped the heads of these 41 infants with a dry linen cloth. They put 37 other normal, full-term newborns directly in the plastic bag without first wiping them with a dry cloth. The researchers wanted to evaluate the decrease in temperature in normal-term infants after delivery in an air conditioned room and to determine what various techniques reduced the rate of temperature decreases, specifically to determine whether plastic effectively insulates the infant. The mean birth weights of all 3 groups were not statistically different (overall mean birth weight = 3132 gm). Rectal temperatures fell precipitously in the first 15 minutes in all 3 groups (p .0001, e.g., infants in plastic without first being wiped, 37.45-36.8 degrees Celsius). The rate of temperature drop was essentially the same for all 3 groups (0.8-0.98 degrees Celsius). The temperature still fell significantly, but less abruptly, during the next 60 minutes (p .0001). These findings suggested that plastic did not effectively protect the infant from heat loss in an air conditioned environment. The researchers intended to conduct another study investigating the insulting capabilities of the silver swaddler--a potential device to prevent hypothermia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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