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Transepidermal water loss and resting energy expenditure in preterm infants.
Helvetica Paediatrica Acta
Skin water loss of preterm infants, nursed naked in incubators under thermoneutral conditions, was assessed by a method based on the measurement of water vapor pressure gradient close to the skin surface. The corresponding skin evaporative heat loss was calculated using an energy equivalent of 0.58 kcal/g water vaporised. During the first 5 weeks of life, 128 sets of measurements were made on 56 infants whose gestational age ranged from 28 to 37 weeks. In the first week of life, infants of less than 30 weeks of gestation had substantially higher transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and skin evaporative heat loss (skin EHL) (41.5 +/- 11.5 g/kg X day TEWL; 24.1 +/- 6.5 kcal/kg X day skin EHL) than infants of 34 weeks and greater (11.1 +/- 4.1 g/kg X day; 6.4 +/- 2.4 kcal/kg X day). Infants of 30-33 weeks of gestation had intermediate values (22.4 +/- 7.6 g/kg X day; 13 +/- 4.4 kcal/kg X day). From the third week of life on, TEWL was similar for all preterm infants, i.e. 14.2 +/- 2.6 to 12.7 +/- 1.9 g/kg X day and corresponds to skin EHL of 8.2 +/- 1.5 to 7.4 +/- 1.1 kcal/kg X day. There was a significant inverse relationship between gestational age and TEWL and also between postnatal age and TEWL. In an additional group of 7 preterm infants (30-34 weeks of gestation, mean postnatal age of 21 +/- 9 days) transepidermal water loss and energy expenditure were measured simultaneously. The skin evaporative heat loss (8.8 +/- 2.5 kcal/kg X day) accounted for 17 +/- 5% of energy expenditure (53.3 +/- 4.1 kcal/kg X day). This study emphasizes that in infants of less than 30 weeks of gestation, the transepidermal water loss is of great importance and makes a major contribution to water and heat balances.
Aging, Birth Weight, Body Temperature Regulation, Energy Metabolism, Female, Gestational Age, Humans, Infant, Newborn, Infant, Premature, Male, Skin Physiological Phenomena, Water Loss, Insensible
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