Thermoregulation and thermography in neonatal physiology and disease

Thermoregulation, or control of body temperature, has been studied as a fundamental physiological parameter defining health and disease for centuries (Ring, 2007; Ring, McEvoy, Jung, Zuber, & Machin, 2010). Multiple techniques have been used to assess thermoregulation in infants and adults, including the recent development of infrared thermography. Thermography can measure and visualize skin surface thermal patterns in the study of body temperature, and researchers have used this novel methodology to study cancer, peripheral vascular disease, trauma, and wound management (Kateb, Yamamoto, Yu, Grundfest, & Gruen, 2009; Katz et al., 2008; Mital & Scott, 2007; Nakanishi & Imai-Matsumura, 2008). We have recently developed methods to use infrared thermography to measure body temperature in neonates during their first month of life to examine relationships between control of body temperature and perfusion, as well as association between thermoregulation and clinical disease processes such as necrotizing enterocolitis. This paper will review methods for using infrared thermography, current research using this measurement tool, and use in our current neonatal research.