Maternal holding during therapeutic hypothermia for infants with neonatal encephalopathy is feasible

Acta Paediatr. 2019 Sep;108(9):1597-1602. doi: 10.1111/apa.14743. Epub 2019 Mar 5.


Aim: Concerns for infant destabilisation often prohibit parental holding of infants during therapeutic hypothermia (TH). We assessed the feasibility of maternal holding during TH, as the inability to hold can impede bonding.

Methods: Vital signs were assessed in stable infants before, at two-minute intervals during and 30 minutes after a single 30-minute holding session. The infant remained on the blanket throughout holding, and both infant and blanket were placed into the mother's arms on top of a thin foam insulating barrier. Mothers and nurses were surveyed about their experience.

Results: Ten infants undergoing TH for neonatal encephalopathy had no equipment malfunctions or dislodgement. The mean temperature was 33.4°C prior to and 33.5°C (p = 0.18) after holding. There was no significant bradycardia (heart rate <80 beats per minute), hypotension (mean arterial pressure <40 mm Hg) or oxygen desaturation (<93%). Nurses either strongly agreed (75%) or agreed (25%) with the statement 'After assisting with the holding protocol, I feel that holding during cooling is safe'. Mothers (100%) strongly agreed that other parents would benefit from holding.

Conclusion: In a small sample of ten stable infants treated with TH for neonatal encephalopathy, holding resulted in no adverse events and positive feedback from mothers and nurses.

Trial registration: NCT03079284.

Keywords: Bonding; Holding; Hypothermia; Neonatal intensive care unit; Warming.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Brain Diseases / therapy*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia, Induced*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care, Neonatal / methods*
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Prospective Studies

Associated data