• Caregiving;
  • Neonate;
  • Thermoregulation



Very-low-birth-weight (VLBW) neonates require regular nursing procedures with frequent opening of the incubator resulting in a decrease in incubator air temperature. This study was designed to assess changes in the thermal status of VLBW neonates according to the type of nursing care and incubator openings.


Thirty-one VLBW neonates (mean gestational age: 28.7 ± 0.3 weeks of gestation) were included. Over a 10-day period, each opening of the incubator was recorded together with details about caregiving. Body temperature was recorded continuously, and door opening and closing events were recorded by a video camera.


This study analysed 1,798 caregiving procedures with mean durations ranging from 6.2 ± 2.1 to 88.5 ± 33.4 min. Abdominal skin temperature decreased by up to 1.08°C/h for procedures such as tracheal intubation (p < 0.01). The temperature decrease was strongly correlated with the type of procedure (p < 0.01), incubator opening (p < 0.01) and procedure duration (p < 0.01). The procedure duration accounted for only 10% of the abdominal skin temperature change (p < 0.01).


For VLBW neonates nursed in skin temperature servo-control incubators, the decrease in abdominal skin temperature during caregiving was correlated with the type of procedure, incubator opening modalities and procedure duration. These parameters should be considered to optimize the thermal management of VLBW neonates.