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Environ Health Perspect. Aug 1991; 94: 55–59.
PMCID: PMC1567975
Research Article
Preventability of neonatal cold injury and its contribution to neonatal mortality.
J R Goldsmith, Y Arbeli, and D Stone
Epidemiology and Health Services Evaluation Unit, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel.
Abstract
When the body temperature of a small neonate falls below 35 degrees C, lassitude can be noted; severe derangements of cardiovascular, renal, hepatic, immunological, and hematological systems may also occur depending in part on the duration and severity of hypothermia. Diagnosis requires a low-reading thermometer, lacking which the diagnosis can be suspected, but most often is missed. Fatal cases of diagnosed cold injury commonly have terminal pneumonia or sepsis. Prevention involves identification and home visits to high-risk infants; intensive care of those with the diagnosis at Soroka Hospital Medical Center has reduced the case-fatality rate from 30% in 1971 to 3% in 1988-1989. During the same period in our region, the proportion of neonatal deaths occurring in winter months of December, January, and February has dropped from 55 to 27%. The expected proportion is 25%. We hypothesize that excess neonatal mortality during winter months, especially due to pneumonia and sepsis or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is an indicator of missed cold injury syndrome. A preliminary evaluation was made form U.S. data by state, provided by the National Center for Health Statistics, which records no fatalities from cold injury during 1986. Contrasted with this are 26 cold injury deaths in Israel for 1977-1980. In the U.S., though, excess winter neonatal deaths in 1986 from SIDS, pneumonia, and sepsis are reported.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
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