J Med Assoc Thai 2011; 94 (12):32

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Effect of Polyethylene Bag to Prevent Heat Loss in Preterm Infants at Birth: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Chantaroj S Mail, Techasatid W

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 < 32 weeks.
Material and Method: A randomized controlled trial was conducted in thirty-eight preterm infants with gestational age < 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 of 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°C (range 35.5°C-37.2°C) vs. 35.9°C (range 34.9°C-36.5°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.

Keywords: Hypothermia, Preterm infants


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