Bathing Method for Preterm Infants: A Systematic Review


Background: Current research suggests that routine daily bathing for preterm infants can render many adverse effects on physiological responses and comfort distress of the infant. Repeated stress on premature babies can have destructive longterm effects on brain development. Objectives: To identify the best current evidence regarding bathing method for preterm infants in enhancing neuro developmental care by using atraumaticcareapproach. Methods:Acomprehensiveliteraturesearchwasperformed in PubMed, ScienceDirect, Wiley Online Library, EbscoHost, Proquest from year of 2008 – May 2019 with the search strategy keywords: bathing, behavioral responses, physiological parameters, premature babies, preterm infants. Inclusion criteria for this study were an original research or systematic review about preterm/premature infants with gestational age is 30 – 37 weeks. PRISMA guideline was applied as a search strategy tool, compared to the used of another conceptualizing tool.

Results: A total of 883 of records were identified. After removal of duplicates and initial screening, nine articles met the inclusion criteria of bathing methods for preterm infants. There are several bathing methods were identified: sponge bath, conventional/immersion tub bath, and swaddle bath which is related to physiological responses and behavioral distress during and after bathing intervention. This systematic review showed that swaddle bath had a positive effect on physiological measurement and behavioral responses to preterm infants compared to conventional tub bath and sponge bath which can increase physiological and behavioral discomfort to the preterm infants.

Conclusion: This study showed that some of the processes actually reduce negative effects of bathing on the health of the preterm infants. Swaddle bath has proven to be the best and safest type of bathing method for preterm infants during hospitalization that produces fewer changes regarding physiological and behavioral distress to the preterm infants. It is recommended that swaddle bath should be used for preterm infants during they are hospitalized and to be considered as a standard operating procedure in the perinatology unit and neonatal intensive care unit or pediatric intensive care unit.

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