TOTW: Neonatal Thermogenesis
Posted on: February 17th, 2021
At birth, the neonate rapidly cools. Without external support, newborns can readily lose heat and body temperature through all four mechanisms of heat loss, including:
• Evaporation (still wet with amniotic fluid, the conversion of gas to liquid cools the body)
• Conduction (Direct physical contact is now lost)
• Radiation (Electromagnetic waves from a relatively cooler extra-uterine environment)
• Convection (Heat loss to air and water vapor molecules circulating around the body)
But remember, that neonates don’t shiver like we do. They regulate their temperature through non-shivering thermogenesis (NST): Burning oxygen and adipose tissue to increase heat production. This can cause significant hypoglycemia and other critical metabolic issues if left untreated.
This highlights the importance of the old adage “WARM (minimize radiation loss), DRY (minimize evaporation heat loss), and STIMULATE(allow for conductive heat gain)” following birth!