A Randomized Trial of Conditioned or Unconditioned Gases for Stabilizing Preterm Infants at Birth

J Pediatr. 2018 Feb;193:47-53. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2017.09.006. Epub 2017 Nov 6.


Objective: To determine whether the use of heated-humidified gases for respiratory support during the stabilization of infants <30 weeks of gestational age (GA) in the delivery room reduces rates of hypothermia on admission to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Study design: A multicenter, unblinded, randomized trial was conducted in Melbourne, Australia, between February 2013 and June 2015. Infants <30 weeks of GA were randomly assigned to receive either heated-humidified gases or unconditioned gases during stabilization in the delivery room and during transport to NICU. Infants born to mothers with pyrexia >38°C were excluded. Primary outcome was rate of hypothermia on NICU admission (rectal temperature <36.5°C).

Results: A total of 273 infants were enrolled. Fewer infants in the heated-humidified group were hypothermic on admission to NICU (36/132 [27%]) compared with controls (61/141 [43%], P < .01). There was no difference in rates of hyperthermia (>37.5°C); 20% (27/132) in the heated-humidified group compared with 16% (22/141) in the controls (P = .30). There were no differences in mortality or respiratory outcomes.

Conclusions: The use of heated-humidified gases in the delivery room significantly reduces hypothermia on admission to NICU in preterm infants, without increased risk of hyperthermia.

Clinical trial registration: Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Register (www.anzctr.org.au) ACTRN12613000093785.

Keywords: delivery room; gas conditioning; humidification; hypothermia; newborn resuscitation; newborn stabilization; respiratory support.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Delivery Rooms
  • Female
  • Fever / epidemiology
  • Gases / administration & dosage*
  • Gases / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Humidifiers
  • Hypothermia / epidemiology
  • Hypothermia / prevention & control*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Respiratory Therapy / adverse effects
  • Respiratory Therapy / methods*


  • Gases