Golden hour for delicate bubs

11 Nov 2015

Westmead Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) has implemented a new practice to keep premature babies, born at less than 32 weeks gestation, at the optimum temperature of between 36.5C and 37.5C.

Westmead Hospital’s NICU clinical nurse educator Ann-Maree Padernia has developed a number of new strategies to maintain the thermal stability of these fragile babies during admission and in the important ‘golden hour’.

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“The ‘golden hour’ is the time that babies born at less than 32 weeks are most vulnerable,” Ann-Maree said.

“Every 1°C decrease in temperature on admission to the NICU can increase the risk of late onset of sepsis by 11 per cent and the risk of death by 28 per cent”.

New strategies to help during the ‘golden hour’ include a new method of wrapping the baby, using a polyethylene sheet, which enables nursing and medical staff to care for the baby without the child losing heat and humidity.

“The use of Polythylene-lined bonnets stops heat escaping from the baby’s head,” Ann-Marie said.

“Specialised heat controls and equipment are also used during transfer between the birth unit or operating theatres and the NICU.”

Since the implementation of the new practice, babies born at less than 32 weeks gestation at Westmead Hospital now have an average golden hour temperature of 36.9⁰C.

Westmead Hospital’s NICU recently won a Western Sydney Local Health District Quality Award for implementing this life-saving method.