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  1. Carbasse, Aurelia MD
  2. Kracher, Sylvie RN
  3. Hausser, Martine RN
  4. Langlet, Claire MD
  5. Escande, Benoit MD
  6. Donato, Lionel MD
  7. Astruc, Dominique MD
  8. Kuhn, Pierre MD, PhD


Skin-to-skin contact (SSC) is a cornerstone of neurodevelopmentally supportive and family-oriented care for very low-birth-weight preterm infants (VPIs). However, performing SSC with unstable and/or ventilated VPIs remains challenging for caregiving teams and/or controversial in the literature. We first aimed to assess the safety and effectiveness of SSC with vulnerable VPIs in a neonatal intensive care unit over 12 months. Our second aim was to evaluate the impact of the respiratory support (intubation or not) and of the infant's weight (above or below 1000 g) on the effects of SSC. Vital signs, body temperature, and oxygen requirement data were prospectively recorded by each infant's nurse before (baseline), during (3 time points), and after their first or first 2 SSC episodes. We compared the variations of each parameter from baseline (analysis of variance for repeated measures with post hoc analysis when appropriate). We studied 141 SSCs in 96 VPIs of 28 (24-33) weeks' gestational age, at 12 (0-55) days of postnatal age, and at a postmenstrual age of 30.5 (+/-1.5) weeks. During SSC, there were statistically significant increases in oxygen saturation (Sao2) (P < .001) with decreases in oxygen requirement (P = .043), a decrease in heart rate toward stability (P < .01) but a transient and moderate decrease in mean axillary temperature following the transfer from bed to mother (P < .05). Apneas/bradycardias requiring minor intervention occurred in 19 (13%) SSCs, without need for SSC termination. These variations were similar for intubated newborns (18%) as compared with newborns on nasal continuous positive airway pressure (52%) or breathing room air (30%). However, ventilated infants exhibited a significant increase in transcutaneous partial pressure of carbon dioxide (TcPco2) (P = .01), although remaining in a clinically acceptable range, and a greater decrease in oxygen requirements during SSC (P < .001) than nonventilated infants. Skin-to-skin contact in the neonatal intensive care unit seems safe and effective even in ventilated VPIs. Recording physiologic data of infants before, during, and after SCC provides data needed to secure changes of practice in SCC.