Objective: To investigate the impact of early skin-to-skin contact (SSC) provided for first 24 h on incidence of hypothermia in stable newborns weighing 1800 g or more during first 48 h of life.
Study design: Stable newborns (term and late preterm: Mean gestational age 37.7 (1.35) weeks, range 34-40 weeks) having birth weight 1800 g or more (Mean weight 2605.6 (419.8) grams) were enrolled after approval from Institutional Human Research Ethics Committee (CTRI/2013/06/003790) and randomized into early SSC (intervention group) and conventional care (control group). Initial care in the delivery room for few minutes immediately after birth in both the groups was given under radiant warmer. In the intervention group, newborns were provided SSC by their mother started between 30 min and 1 h after birth for first 24 h with minimal interruption and were provided conventional care other than SSC for next 24 h of life. In the control group, newborns were kept with their mother and received conventional care other than SSC for first 48 h. Temperature and heart rate of newborns were recorded at 30 min, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 12, 24 and at 48 h of life in both the groups. Independent Samples t-Test and relative risk were used to analyze the data.
Result: Both groups had 50 neonates each with similar baseline characteristics. Heart rates were in normal range in both the groups. The intervention group provided an average (s.d.) of 16.98 (0.28) h of SSC over the first 24 h period. The mean temperature was significantly high in the SSC group at all time intervals starting from 1 to 48 h (P<0.05 for all). In the SSC group only two newborns (4%) had mild hypothermia (cold stress), and, of these two newborns, one had two episodes of hypothermia. All these three episodes of hypothermia occurred within first 3 h of life. In the control group 16 newborns (32%) developed hypothermia (temperature<36.5 °C) during first 48 h of life. Of them, 11 newborns had single episode, 4 newborns had two episodes and one newborn had three episodes of hypothermia. Of these 22 hypothermic episodes, 20 occurred in the first 6 h of life and 2 episodes occurred at 48 h of life. Moderate hypothermia was seen in two newborns, whereas rest had mild hypothermia. The relative risk of developing hypothermia in the control group as compared with the SSC group was 8.00 (95% CI 1.94-32.99). There was no seasonal variation in incidence of hypothermia in both the groups.
Conclusion: Newborns in the SSC group achieved rapid thermal control as compared with the control group. Early SSC for 24 h after birth decreases incidence of hypothermia for initial 48 h of life. Early SSC needs to be aggressively promoted in term and late-preterm newborns to reduce incidence of hypothermia.