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Skin-to-skin care alters regional ventilation in stable neonates


Objective Skin-to-skin care (SSC) has proven psychological benefits; however, the physiological effects are less clearly defined. Regional ventilation patterns during SSC have not previously been reported. This study aimed to compare regional ventilation indices and other cardiorespiratory parameters during prone SSC with supine and prone position cot-nursing.

Design Prospective observational study.

Setting Single quaternary neonatal intensive care unit in Australia.

Patients 20 infants spontaneously breathing (n=17) or on non-invasive ventilation (n=3), with mean (SD) gestational age at birth of 33 (5) weeks.

Interventions Thirty-minute episodes of care in each position: supine cot care, prone SSC and prone cot care preceding a 10 min period of continuous electrical impedance tomography measurements of regional ventilation.

Main outcome measures In each position, ventral–dorsal and right–left centre of ventilation (CoV), percentage of whole lung ventilation by region and percentage of apparent unventilated lung regions were determined. Heart and respiratory rates, oxygen saturation and axillary temperature were also measured.

Results Heart and respiratory rates, oxygen saturation, temperature and right-left lung ventilation did not differ between the three positions (mixed-effects model). Ventilation generally favoured the dorsal lung, but the mean (95% CI) ventrodorsal CoV was −2.0 (−0.4 to –3.6)% more dorsal during SSC compared with prone. Supine position resulted in 5.0 (1.5 to 5.3)% and 4.5 (3.9 to 5.1)% less apparently unventilated lung regions compared with SSC and prone, respectively.

Conclusions In clinically stable infants, SSC generates a distinct regional ventilation pattern that is independent of prone position and results in greater distribution of ventilation towards the dorsal lung.

  • respiratory
  • neonatology
  • monitoring
  • nursing

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