Aim: Hypothermia is associated with increased morbidity and mortality in preterm infants. A local audit revealed 60% preterm infants ≤32 weeks gestation and/or very low birth weight (VLBW) infants (<1500 g) had an abnormal body temperature at admission. This study compares thermoregulatory outcomes before and after the implementation of a thermoregulation bundle in the birthing environment
Methods: This retrospective cohort study reviewed thermoregulatory data for all inborn preterm (≤32 weeks) and/or VLBW infants for a period of 30 months before (Group 1: 1st January 2013 to 30 June 2015) and after changes to thermoregulation practice (Group 2: 1st July 2015 to 31 December 2017). The key practice changes included: improved anticipation and staff preparedness, wrapping infant in a polyethylene sheet, using a polyethylene lined bonnet, using servo-control mode at birth and during transport.
Results: There were 282 and 286 infants in group 1 and group 2 respectively, with similar baseline characteristics. A clinically and statistically significant improvement was observed in the proportion of infants with normothermia (33% in group 1 to 60% in group 2, P < 0.0001) including the sub-group of extremely preterm (<28 weeks gestation) infants (38 to 60%, P=0.0083). A highermean admission temperaturewas observed for group 2 (36.10_C _ 0.78 in group 1 vs 36.52_C _ 0.61 in group 2, P < 0.0001).Moderate hypothermia was reduced by two-thirds in group 2 (41–12%, P=<0.0001).
Conclusions: The introduction of a thermoregulation bundle improved admission temperature, improved the proportion of normothermia and reduced moderate hypothermia in preterm infants.