Physiologic responses to skin-to-skin contact in hospitalized premature infants

J Perinatol. 1991 Mar;11(1):19-24.


Twelve stable premature infants in open-air cribs acted as their own controls in a study designed to evaluate the effect of skin-to-skin contact (SSC) with their mothers on infant heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, and skin temperature. Measurements were taken every minute during three consecutive interfeeding periods (2 to 3 hours each): pre-SSC, SSC, and post-SSC. Skin-to-skin contact in the upright position between maternal breasts underneath a velour blouse occurred in the continuing care nursery of secondary level NICUs and was compared with infants lying in open-air cribs. All physiologic measures remained within normal limits, suggesting that SSC had no adverse effects. Statistically significant increases in heart rate and skin and rectal temperatures during SSC were also within normal limits. Skin-to-skin contact can occur between hospitalized stable premature infants and their mothers without physiologic compromise and heat loss to the infant. Practice implications are discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / physiology*
  • Intensive Care, Neonatal / methods*
  • Oxygen / analysis
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena
  • Skin Temperature


  • Oxygen