Interindividual differences in the thermoregulatory response to cool exposure in sleeping neonates

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2000 Apr;81(6):455-62. doi: 10.1007/s004210050068.


The responses of the thermoregulatory effectors vary greatly among neonates. Therefore, we assume that a small decrease in air temperature from thermoneutrality induces various thermoregulatory responses within neonates that represent an energy cost due to the cold defence processes. To determine the importance of this variability in nursing, 26 neonates were explored at thermoneutrality and in a cool environment (-1.5 degrees C from thermoneutrality) similar to that which occurs currently in clinical procedure. Oxygen consumption (VO2), oesophageal and skin temperatures, as well as sleep parameters were recorded continuously in both conditions. Analysis of all of the data from all of the neonates revealed that the cool exposure induced thermal and sleep disturbances, but VO2 did not increase and was not negatively correlated to body temperature (as might be expected). Analyses of individual data showed large variability in body temperature regulation: the neonates could be assigned to one of three groups according to the direction of the individual slopes of VO2 versus oesophageal or skin temperature. The groups also differed according to the sleep changes recorded in the cool condition. The results show that the definition of thermoneutrality should be revised by incorporating non only changes in the body temperature, but also the sleep disturbances (increased wakefulness and active sleep, decreased quiet sleep), which are criteria that are more sensitive to mild cool exposure. Thermoneutrality should be defined for each individual, since the results stress that the variability does not help to predict a general pattern of thermoregulatory responses in cool-exposed neonates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Temperature
  • Body Temperature Regulation / physiology*
  • Cold Temperature*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Sleep / physiology*