Safety of immediate skin-to-skin contact after vaginal birth in vigorous late preterm neonates – A pilot study

Walsh, R.S.*, Payne, A., Cossler, N.J., Thompson, C.L., Bhola, M. | JNPM 2021;


BACKGROUND:To evaluate the safety of immediate skin-to-skin contact (SSC) in vigorous late preterm neonates, where observation under radiant warmer is standard of care, in a prospective, randomized, controlled, and equivalence pilot study.

METHODS:Singletons born vaginally at 35–36 6/7 weeks gestation were randomized to initiate immediate SSC or standard of care with continuous pulse oximeter monitoring for the first hour of life.

RESULTS:Forty-seven dyads were randomized to SSC (n = 21) or radiant warmer (n = 26). Vitals were recorded at designated time intervals to assess tolerance of postnatal transitioning. We found no significant difference in the number of SSC interruptions, pulse oximeter readings, initial glucose level, and rates of hypoglycemia, hypothermia, or NICU admission between the two groups.

CONCLUSIONS:Vigorous late preterm neonates transitioned to immediate SSC without additional risks compared to control counterparts. Large, multicenter, and randomized-control studies need to be conducted to establish standardized guidelines for this practice.

*Corresponding Author: 

 Rebecca Walsh, M.D., F.A.A.P., Graduated Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine Fellow, Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, 11100 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106. E-mail: