THE postnatal development of the sweating mechanism is still incompletely understood. The basis for the presumed delay in the onset of sweating in full-term neonates is as puzzling as the reason why prematurely born infants are unable to sweat for some time after birth. Neonatal sweating deficiency is cited as an example of functional immaturity, but the state of the development of the component parts of this mechanism—sweat glands, peripheral neural pathways, and automic centers—is unknown.
With few exceptions, the available data on neonatal sweating concern thermal reflex sweating, which depends upon the functional status of the glands proper and on the competence of the nervous elements comprising the reflex arc. Recent studies have provided evidence, direct1 and indirect,2 of the mature neonate's ability to sweat naturally on the first day of life, earlier than was generally believed.3 On the other hand, thermal sweating is a unique