To determine the optimal position for the preterm infant, arterial oxygen tension (Pao2) was monitored in 16 preterm infants by the transcutaneous method with the infants in both supine and prone positions. When the infants were prone, Pao2 rose by a mean of 7.4 mm Hg (P < .001), an increase of 15%. In those infants with residual cardiopulmonary disease, a 25% increase was noted. The higher Pao2 in the prone position was accompanied by a significant decrease in the amount of time the chest wall moved asynchronously. This improved oxygenation in the prone position appears to be the result of enhanced ventilation/ perfusion ratios and not merely secondary to an alteration in sleep state with positioning of the infant. These findings may have important implications in the management of preterm infants requiring neonatal intensive care.
- Received July 1, 1978.
- Accepted September 6, 1978.
- Copyright © 1979 by the American Academy of Pediatrics