Polythene bags have long been a matter of convenience for Indians but a new study has found that they may be able to save the lives of premature infants by maintaining their body temperature during their critical trip to the hospital.
The normal average body temperature for babies should be between 36.7 and 37.2 degrees but this is reduced among premature babies who are in danger of suffering from hypothermia, a condition where the body temperature falls below 34 degrees.
Doctors at Surya Hospital conducted the study on 100 premature babies, 50 of whom were carried to Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) wrapped in sterile cloth while the other 50 were covered with a simple polythene sheet. They found that babies wrapped with polythene sheet had higher body temperature compared to those wrapped in sterile cloth.
"Our study demonstrated that polythene wrap is safe and effective in improving admission temperature of pre-term infants. Polythene wrap is inexpensive, easily available, and cost-effective in maintaining temperature of the infant during transportation. In a country like India, where long-duration transportation is required to transfer infants to intensive care units, the use of clothes for wrapping increases risk of hypothermia", Dr Bhupendra Avasthi, neonatologist with Surya Hospital, said.