Thermoregulation for very preterm infants in the delivery room: a narrative review

Pediatr Res. 2024 May;95(6):1448-1454. doi: 10.1038/s41390-023-02902-w. Epub 2024 Jan 22.


Abnormal temperature in preterm infants is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Infants born prematurely are at risk of abnormal temperature immediately after birth in the delivery room (DR). The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that the temperature of newly born infants is maintained between 36.5-37.5oC after birth. When caring for very preterm infants, the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) recommends using a combination of interventions to prevent heat loss. While hypothermia remains prevalent, efforts to prevent it have increased the incidence of hyperthermia, which may also be harmful. Delayed cord clamping (DCC) for preterm infants has been recommended by ILCOR since 2015. Little is known about the effect of timing of DCC on temperature, nor have there been specific recommendations for thermal care before DCC. This review article focuses on the current evidence and recommendations for thermal care in the DR, and considers thermoregulation in the context of emerging interventions and future research directions. IMPACT: Abnormal temperature is common amongst very preterm infants after birth, and is an independent risk factor for mortality. The current guidelines recommend a combination of interventions to prevent heat loss after birth. Despite this, abnormal temperature is still a problem, across all climates and economies. New and emerging delivery room practice (i.e., delayed cord clamping, mobile resuscitation trolleys, early skin to skin care) may have an effect on infant temperature. This article reviews the current evidence and recommendations, and considers future research directions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Temperature Regulation*
  • Delivery Rooms*
  • Humans
  • Hyperthermia
  • Hypothermia* / prevention & control
  • Infant, Extremely Premature
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Risk Factors
  • Umbilical Cord