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Hypothesis waiting for proof: unwrapping neonates for transfer
  1. D J Hawkes,
  2. D G Spendley,
  3. M Alfaham
  1. Departments of Child Health and Medical Physics, Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust, Llandough Hospital, Cardiff CF64 2XX, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr Alfaham;

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During transfer from the delivery suite to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), infants are traditionally wrapped in pre-warmed towels. Whether this is optimal remains unknown. We compared the effects on core temperature of wrapping or not wrapping neonates during their transfer from the delivery suite to the NICU.

After resuscitation, infants in both groups were transferred to a Vickers 77-transport incubator and left wrapped or unwrapped. Rectal temperature was recorded using a mercury thermometer before leaving the delivery suite and again, immediately after transfer into a NICU incubator. The study was granted ethical approval.

Our findings are summarised in the table. There were no significant demographic differences between the two groups. While the mean transfer time was longer in the unwrapped group, the mean temperature change during transit was lower although neither difference reached statistical significance. No hypothermia (rectal temperature <36°C) occurred in either group.

Wrapping infants in towels prevents convective heat gain. Additionally, leaving infants unwrapped allows essential clinical observation.

Despite the limitations of this small study, our findings challenge the practice of wrapping infants and warrant further examination in larger clinical studies.

Table 1

Demographics of the two study groups and temperature difference