PEDIATRICS Vol. 49 No. 4 April 1972, pp. 504-513NEWBORN TEMPERATURE AND CALCULATED HEAT LOSS IN THEDELIVERY ROOM
Lida Swafford Dahm M.D.
and L. Stanley James M.D.
Division of Perinatal Medicine of the Department of Anesthesiology,Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Pediatrics, College of Physicians andSurgeons, Columbia University and Babies Hospital, New York, New YorkNewborn infants lose heat rapidly at birth and during the first
half hourof life. This investigation was undertaken to determine
whether theinitial heat loss was due principally to evaporation,
and whether or notestablishment of breathing would be irregular
or delayed if the initialcold stress was reduced.Five groups,
each of 10 infants, were studied during the first half hourof life. Infants in Groups I and IV remained wet and were exposed
toeither room air or placed under a radiant heater. Those in
Groups II, III,and V were dried promptly and exposed to room
air, wrapped in ablanket or warmed by means of a radiant heater.
Heat loss due toradiation and convection together was twice
that from evaporation.Reduction of cold stress by placing the
infant under a radiant heater assoon as he is born does not
impede or delay the onset of breathing.Wet infants exposed
to room air lost nearly five times more heat thanthose who
were dried and warmed.In vigorous infants, the simple maneuver
of drying and wrapping in awarm blanket is almost as effective
in diminishing heat loss as placingthem under a radiant heater.
However, in depressed or immatureinfants who may be more asphyxiated
or have reduced energy stores,radiant heat maintains body temperature
while allowing access to thepatient.
Rosie B GadiazaGroup 6.St. Claire Medical Center