Randomized Trial of Plastic Bags to Prevent Term Neonatal Hypothermia in a Resource-Poor Setting
OBJECTIVES: Term infants in resource-poor settings frequently develop hypothermia during the first hours after birth. Plastic bags or wraps are a low-cost intervention for the prevention of hypothermia in preterm and low birth weight infants that may also be effective in term infants. Our objective was to test the hypothesis that placement of term neonates in plastic bags at birth reduces hypothermia at 1 hour after birth in a resource-poor hospital.
METHODS: This parallel-group randomized controlled trial was conducted at University Teaching Hospital, the tertiary referral center in Zambia. Inborn neonates with both a gestational age ≥37 weeks and a birth weight ≥2500 g were randomized 1:1 to either a standard thermoregulation protocol or to a standard thermoregulation protocol with placement of the torso and lower extremities inside a plastic bag within 10 minutes after birth. The primary outcome was hypothermia (<36.5°C axillary temperature) at 1 hour after birth.
RESULTS: Neonates randomized to plastic bag (n = 135) or to standard thermoregulation care (n = 136) had similar baseline characteristics (birth weight, gestational age, gender, and baseline temperature). Neonates in the plastic bag group had a lower rate of hypothermia (60% vs 73%, risk ratio 0.76, confidence interval 0.60–0.96, P = .026) and a higher axillary temperature (36.4 ± 0.5°C vs 36.2 ± 0.7°C, P < .001) at 1 hour after birth compared with infants receiving standard care.
CONCLUSIONS: Placement in a plastic bag at birth reduced the incidence of hypothermia at 1 hour after birth in term neonates born in a resource-poor setting, but most neonates remained hypothermic.
- infant, term
- infant, newborn
- infant, hypothermia/prevention and control
- plastic bag
- bedding and linens
- body temperature, regulation
- delivery, obstetrics
- CI —
- confidence interval
- RR —
- risk ratio
- WHO —
- World Health Organization
- Accepted June 24, 2013.
- Copyright © 2013 by the American Academy of Pediatrics