Warming preterm infants in the delivery room: polyethylene bags, exothermic mattresses or both?

Acta Paediatr. 2011 Dec;100(12):1534-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2011.02375.x. Epub 2011 Oct 4.


Aims: To compare the admission temperature of infants treated with polyethylene bags alone to infants treated with exothermic mattresses in addition to bags in the delivery room.

Methods: We prospectively studied infants born at <31 weeks' gestation who were placed in bags at birth. Some infants were also placed on mattresses. Admission axillary temperatures were measured in all infants on admission to the neonatal intensive care. We compared the temperatures of infants treated with bags alone to those treated with mattresses and bags.

Results: We studied 43 infants: 15 were treated with bags while 28 were treated with a bag and mattress. Mean admission temperature was similar between the groups. Hypothermia and hyperthermia occurred more frequently in infants treated with a bag and mattress, and more infants treated with a bag had admission temperatures 36.5-37.5°C.

Conclusion: The use of exothermic mattresses in addition to polyethylene bags, particularly in younger, smaller newborns, may result in more hypothermia and hyperthermia on admission. A randomised controlled trial is necessary to determine which strategy results in more infants having admission temperatures in the normal range.

MeSH terms

  • Bedding and Linens*
  • Beds*
  • Body Temperature / physiology*
  • Fever / etiology
  • Fever / prevention & control
  • Heating / methods
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia / etiology
  • Hypothermia / prevention & control
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / physiology*
  • Intensive Care, Neonatal / methods*
  • Polyethylene
  • Prospective Studies


  • Polyethylene