Objective: We recently found increased temperature and increased bradycardia and desaturation during skin-to-skin care (SSC). We wanted to determine if these effects were related.
Study design: Twenty-two infants (median gestational age at birth 28.5 weeks [range 24-31], median age at study 25.5 days [range 10-60 days], median birth weight 1025 g [range 550-1525 g], median weight at study 1320 g [range 900-2460 g]) underwent three 2-hour recordings of breathing movements, nasal airflow, heart rate, and pulse oximeter saturation (SpO 2 ): at thermoneutrality (TN) during incubator care, at TN during SSC, and at elevated temperature (ET) during incubator care. Core temperature was measured via a rectal probe. Recordings were analyzed for the summed rate of bradycardia and desaturation (heart rate <2/3 of baseline; SpO 2 <or=80%).
Results: Rectal temperature remained unchanged during SSC and increased by 0.6 degrees C during ET ( P < .001). The summed rate of bradycardia and desaturation was increased during SSC but not during ET (TN: median 2.2/hour (range, 0-19), ET: median 1.7/hour (range, 0-13), SSC: 3.0/hour (0-25), P < .02 SSC vs ET).
Conclusion: Bradycardia and desaturation were increased during SSC, even at constant rectal temperature, whereas ET had no effect on these events. Moderate hyperthermia did not increase respiratory instability in preterm infants.