Change in the body temperature of healthy term infant over the first 72 hours of life
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Objective: To determine the range of body temperature in a group of healthy Chinese term neonates over the first 72 hours of life and to assess the influence of body weight, gestational age and route of delivery. Method: All 200 consecutive cases of neonates delivered at our hospital from March to August 2001 were included in this retrospective study. Temperatures were measured immediately after delivery, after 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, 8 hours and 15 hours and on the 2nd and 3rd day. Axillary temperatures ranging from 36.5°C to 37°C were regarded as normal. No cases of maternal fever or systemic infection of the newborns were discovered. All infants were discharged in good general condition. Results: The mean rectal temperature at birth was 37.19°C. The lowest average temperature was reached at 1 hour after delivery (36.54°C) with a significant difference between natural delivery (36.48°C) and section (36.59°C) (P<0.05). Temperature subsequently rose to 36.70°C at 8 hours and 36.78°C at 15 hours (P<0.05). Hypothermia was seen in 51.8% and hypothermia in 42.5% of the patients. On the 3rd day after delivery, 96% of all temperatures were in the normal range. A significant relation was found between hypothermia and both low birth weight (P<0.001) and low gestational age (P<0.05). Conclusion: The reference range presently used did not include all physiological temperatures in the first 72 hours of life. Considering other factors, such as birth weight, route of delivery, gestational age and body temperature on the 2nd and 3rd day of life, may help to correctly assess the significance of temperatures beyond the reference range.
Key wordsBody temperature Term infant Rectal temperature Axillary temperature
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