Thermoregulation is a critical physiologic function that is closely associated with the neonate’s survival.1 Extremely low-birthweight infants have inefficient thermoregulation due to immaturity—and caregiver procedures such as umbilical line insertions, intubations, and chest x-rays can lead to heat loss as well.2 As a result, infants may exhibit cold body temperatures after birth and during their first 12 hours of life. Thermoregulation plays a unique—and crucial—role in the nurturing and development of neonates. It helps neonatal care practitioners to provide a balanced environment through the management of:
From signaling stress to identifying potentially serious complications, thermoregulation helps create the stable, individualized microclimate that babies need to thrive. Explore the resources below to learn more about thermoregulation.
Videos and Lectures
- Water and Heat—The Priority for the Newborn Infant
Maintaining fluid and heat balance is of vital importance to the newborn infant. At birth, the infant is exposed to a cold and dry environment, and preterm neonates in particular, are then at risk of dehydration and hypothermia.
- Heatbalance Program for Optimum Air Temperature
Very immature newborn infants need close control of their thermal environment. Decisions on incubator temperature and humidity settings can be difficult and available charts are not readily applicable to these babies. A computer program (HeatBalance) using basic principles to calculate heat gains and losses has been developed.
Click here to launch a neonatal simulation training program for thermoregulation.
- Intensive Care for Extreme Prematurity - Moving Beyond Gestational Age
Decisions regarding whether to administer intensive care to extremely premature infants are often based on gestational age alone. However, other factors also affect the prognosis for these patients.
2. Knobel R, Holditch-Davis D. Thermoregulation and heat loss prevention after birth and during neonatal Intensive-care unit stabilization of extremely low-birthweight infants. JOGNN. 2007;36(3):280-287.