Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Physiological responses to cuddling babies with hypoxic–ischaemic encephalopathy during therapeutic hypothermia: an observational study

Odd, David, Okano, Satomi, Ingram, Jenny, Blair, Peter S, Billietop, Amiel, Fleming, Peter J, Thoresen, Marianne and Chakkarapani, Ela 2021. Physiological responses to cuddling babies with hypoxic–ischaemic encephalopathy during therapeutic hypothermia: an observational study. BMJ Paediatrics Open 5 (1) , e001280. 10.1136/bmjpo-2021-001280

[thumbnail of bmjpo-2021-001280.pdf] PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (665kB)
License URL:
License Start date: 16 December 2021


Objectives: To determine whether parents cuddling infants during therapeutic hypothermia (TH) would affect cooling therapy, cardiorespiratory or neurophysiological measures. The secondary aim was to explore parent–infant bonding, maternal postnatal depression and breastfeeding. Design: Prospective observational study. Setting: Two tertiary neonatal intensive care units (NICU). Participants: Parents and their term-born infants (n=27) receiving TH and intensive care for neonatal hypoxic–ischaemic encephalopathy. Interventions: Cuddling up to 2 hours during TH using a standard operating procedure developed in the study (CoolCuddle). Main outcome measures: Mean difference in temperature, cardiorespiratory and neurophysiological variables before, during and after the cuddle. Secondary outcomes were parental bonding, maternal postnatal depression and breastfeeding. Results: During 70 CoolCuddles (115 cumulative hours), there were measurable increases in rectal temperature (0.07°C (0.03 to 0.10)) and upper margin of amplitude-integrated electroencephalogram (1.80 µV (0.83 to 2.72)) and decreases in oxygen saturations (−0.57% (−1.08 to −0.05)) compared with the precuddle period. After the cuddle, there was an increase in end-tidal CO2 (0.25 kPa (95% CI 0.14 to 0.35)) and mean blood pressure (4.09 mm Hg (95% CI 0.96 to 7.21)) compared with the precuddle period. From discharge to 8 weeks postpartum, maternal postnatal depression declined (13 (56.5%) vs 5 (23.8%), p=0.007); breastfeeding rate differed (71% vs 50%, p=0.043), but was higher than national average at discharge (70% vs 54.6%) and mother–infant bonding (median (IQR): 3 (0–6) vs 3 (1–4)) remained stable. Conclusion: In this small study, CoolCuddle was associated with clinically non-significant, but measurable, changes in temperature, cardiorespiration and neurophysiology. No infant met the criteria to stop the cuddles or had any predefined adverse events. CoolCuddle may improve breastfeeding and requires investigation in different NICU settings.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Additional Information: License information from Publisher: LICENSE 1: URL:, Start Date: 2021-12-16, Type: open-access
Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 20 May 2022
Date of Acceptance: 14 November 2021
Last Modified: 20 May 2022 09:00

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics