Adaptation of the Cutaneous Microcirculation in Preterm Neonates

Microcirculation. 2016 Aug;23(6):468-74. doi: 10.1111/micc.12295.


Objective: Transition from fetal to neonatal circulation is characterized by multiple hemodynamic changes. The role of the microcirculation in this process is underexposed. Visualizing the cutaneous microcirculation can help us understand peripheral perfusion in a noninvasive manner.

Methods: Cutaneous microcirculation of term and preterm infants born below 32 weeks of GA was measured in the first month of life using IDF imaging. Linear mixed modeling was used to identify clinical variables which influence the cutaneous microcirculation.

Results: Sixty preterm and 33 term infants were included. TVD of preterm infants significantly decreased in the first month of life (31.7 mm/mm(2) day 1 vs 27.9 mm/mm(2) day 28), but remained significantly higher compared to TVD of term infants on day 1 (25.8 mm/mm(2) ). Besides postnatal age, no clinical variables were associated with TVD. Infants born SGA had significantly higher TVD values directly after birth than those born appropriate for GA (35.4 mm/mm(2) vs 31.6 mm/mm(2) ; p = 0.015).

Conclusions: TVD decreases in the first month after birth and is higher in preterm infants compared to those born term. Differences in antenatal oxygen exposure might explain the adaptation of the microcirculation.

Keywords: adaptation; cutaneous; incident dark field; neonates; preterm.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Blood Vessels / growth & development
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / physiology*
  • Male
  • Microcirculation / physiology*
  • Oxygen / pharmacology
  • Skin / blood supply*


  • Oxygen