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The consequences of cold stress and severe hypothermia are well known. The frequency of low admission temperatures <35°C to the NICU varies widely among neonatal centers with rates as much as 40% in infants <26 weeks gestation. The purpose of this report is to describe the frequency distribution of admission temperatures in extreme low birth weight infants (ELBW) in our tertiary care NICU. The correlation of mean admission temperature and both birth weight and gestational age was also examined. A retrospective descriptive study conducted in King Khalid University Hospital-NICU, including 50 consecutive extremely low birth weight infants (<1000 g at birth), delivered between December 2004 to September 2007. Data gathered included birth weight, gestational age, mode of delivery and admission temperatures. The mean admission temperature was 35.59°C±0.88°C (range=33.0-36.8°C). 84 % (n=42) of the study population had admission temperatures <36.5°C. The frequency of admission temperatures <35.0°C and <36.0°C was 18% and 52%, respectively. There is almost a linear correlation between mean admission temperature and both birth weight and gestational age. The frequency of low admission temperature <36.5°C is significantly high in our unit (84%). This calls attention to the need to review and apply evidence-based practice with regard to thermal management especially for the most vulnerable premature infants.
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Author(s): Khalid AlFaleh
Cold stress, hypothermia, extreme low birth weight, neonatal, gestation