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Comparison of Temporal Artery and Axillary Temperatures in Healthy Newborns


  • Lisa Haddad,

    Corresponding author
    • Correspondence

      Lisa Haddad, MS, BSN, RN, University of Tennessee Medical Center, 1924 Alcoa Highway, Box 104, Knoxville, Tennessee 37920.

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  • Sarah Smith,

  • Kenneth D. Phillips,

  • R. Eric Heidel

  • The authors report no conflict of interest or relevant financial relationships.



To compare temperature readings of temporal artery and axillary thermometers in healthy late preterm and term infants in an effort to standardize practice.


Descriptive comparative.


Thirty-bed, healthy mother/baby unit in an inner-city Level-1 trauma center, averaging 2,500 births per year.


Healthy newborns (N = 125) admitted to mother/baby unit after birth, at least 35 weeks gestation, and weighing greater than 1,900 grams.


Temperatures were taken at regular intervals per unit protocol. At each interval temporal and axillary temperatures were recorded.


Temporal temperatures were significantly higher (M = 36.9°C, SD = .59) than axillary temperatures (M = 36.7°C, SD = .68), t(124) = 6.74, p < .0001. Although statistical significance was shown between the two groups, no meaningful clinical difference was detected.


Our study findings supported a new nursing practice standard for measuring infant temperatures in our mother/baby unit. Using temporal artery thermometers is now our unit's standard of care for healthy newborns.