Objective: Significant evaporative heat loss in the very low birth weight infant can occur in the delivery room. We investigated the effect of polyethylene wrap applied immediately at birth (without drying) on rectal temperature measured at nursery admission.
Study design: Sixty-two consecutive infants delivered at <32 weeks' gestation were stratified by gestational age and randomly allocated to resuscitation with polyethylene wrap. All infants were resuscitated under radiant warmers. Wraps were removed on nursery admission. Rectal temperature was taken by digital electronic thermometer.
Results: Fifty-nine of 62 recruited infants completed the study. Maternal temperature, delivery room temperature, transfer-incubator temperature, and time to admission were recorded. Use of occlusive wrapping resulted in a significantly higher admission rectal temperature in infants <28 weeks' gestation (difference in means = 1.9 C, P <.001). No significant difference was seen in admission rectal temperature in infants of 28 to 31 weeks' gestation (difference in means = 0.17 C, P =.47). All 5 deaths were in the nonwrap group (vs wrap, P =.04); their mean temperature was 35.1 C versus 36.5 C in survivors (P =.001).
Conclusions: Occlusive wrapping of very low birth weight infants at delivery reduces postnatal temperature fall. This may result in a decreased mortality rate.