Although the incidence of sudden unexplained infant deaths has decreased over time with the use of safe sleep practices, one area that remains unclear is the safety of hats during infant sleep.
Decrease the risk of overheating or suffocation by removing NICU infants' hats during sleep without increasing the relative risk of hypothermia during transition to an open crib.
Removal of hats for routine thermoregulation, beyond the initial infant resuscitation and stabilization of NICU infant was implemented in 2015. Retrospective chart audits were conducted on all NICU infants between February 2015 and December 2016. Hypothermia (≤ 97.6°F) data during transition to an open crib was collected. Exclusion criteria included concurrent diagnosis of: sepsis, hyperbilirubinemia, congenital anomaly inhibiting infants thermoregulation and noncompliance with unit guideline for weaning infant to open crib.
Over 18 months, 2.7% of infants became hypothermic (≤ 97.6°F) during transition to open crib, requiring return to isolettes.
Implications for Practice:
Hats were found to be unnecessary in maintaining thermoneutrality after weaning infants toan open crib in our NICU. By avoiding the use of hats in an open crib, it's possible infants will avoid overheating and a risk of suffocation, creating a safer sleep environment.
Implications for Research:
The removal of hats during sleep to promote infant health should be considered for all infants.