Infant Weight and Gestational Age Effects on Thermoneutrality in the Home Environment


  • Karen A. Thomas

    Corresponding author
    1. Karen A. Thomas, PhD, RN, is a professor, Department of Family and Child Nursing, University of Washington, Seattle.
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Address for correspondence: Karen A. Thomas, PhD, RN, Department of Family and Child Nursing, Box 357262, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-7262. E-mail: E-mail:


Objective: To describe infant temperature in the home environment and explore factors, particularly weight and gestational age at birth, associated with maintenance of thermal neutral temperatures in the home.

Design: Continuous abdominal skin temperature was recorded at 1-minute intervals for a 24-hour period in both full-term and preterm infants, using a two-group exploratory design.

Setting: Infants were studied in the home environment.

Patients/Participants: Twenty-four preterm and 16 full-term infants were studied at approximately 44 weeks postconceptional age.

Main Outcome Measures: Abdominal skin temperature was coded as within, over, or under the thermal neutral zone, and the percentage of time in these thermal conditions was calculated.

Results: Regression analysis was conducted, and weight, gestational age, and weight by gestational age interaction were found to be statistically significant predictors of percent of time over and under the thermal neutral zone. Smaller preterm infants were overheated, whereas heavier preterm infants were underheated. Smaller full-term infants were underheated, and heavier full-term infants were overheated.

Conclusion: Thermal care of infants in the home may be influenced by parental perception of thermal vulnerability relative to weight and gestational age at birth.