Thermal Protection of the Newborn: A Practical Guide
Document produced by the WHO Division of Family Health
Technical Units
Order Number    19301047 Format    E-book collection (PDF)
Price    CHF    10.00 / US$    12.00 Developing countries:    CHF    7.00
English     1997        64   pages
Table of contents
Related Publications
Translation(s) available
An illustrated guide to a series of simple measures, taken at birth and during the first days of life, that can help ensure that newborn babies do not become either too cold or too hot. Though emphasis is placed on the severe risks posed by hypothermia, the guide also includes information about the causes of hyperthermia and measures for prevention. Since hypothermia occurs mainly because of lack of knowledge rather than lack of equipment, the guide aims to give health workers all the information and advice needed to take appropriate action, whether to prevent hypothermia in the first place or to save an endangered life.
Now in its second edition, the guide has been revised in line with experiences gained during field testing of the first edition in eight developing countries. Revisions also reflect new evidence about the effectiveness of skin-to-skin contact and the overall importance of thermal protection. Also new is the concept of the "warm chain": a set of ten interlinked procedures, carried out at birth and during the following hours and days, which has been shown to minimize the likelihood of hypothermia in all newborns.
The guide opens with a description of the principles and procedures of thermal protection, giving special attention to the needs of preterm, low birth weight, and sick babies. Subsequent chapters describe the management of hypothermia and hyperthermia, and explain the harmful effects of certain cultural and institutional practices. Information ranges from the question of whether hypothermic babies should be warmed quickly or slowly, to the simple reminder that a "thermally comfortable" room for health staff can be dangerously cold for a newborn. For keeping high-risk babies warm, measures described include the use of kangaroo-mother care, warm rooms, heated water-filled mattresses, radiant heaters, and incubators.
New in this edition is a 21-page summary explaining and illustrating the principles of thermal protection. Simply written and abundantly illustrated, the summary is intended for use in training and designed for easy translation and adaptation.