Over 200 measurements of the resting rate of oxygen consumption using an open-circuit method were made on 15 small babies nursed in their usual clinical setting during the first month of life. There were striking and persistent variations between babies that could not be explained by postnatal age, relationship to feed, sleep, or time of day. It was not possible from clinical examination to predict which babies had the higher or lower metabolic rates, except that babies who were light-for-dates generally had higher values. Because of these variations the appropriate thermal temperature for small babies cannot be predicted from average values adjusted for body weight and postnatal age alone.
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