ObjectiveThe role of cardiotocography (CTG) in fetal risk assessment around the beginning of term labor is controversial. We used routinely collected clinical data in a large tertiary hospital to investigate whether infants with “severe compromise” at birth exhibited fetal heart rate abnormalities in their first-hour CTGs and/or other clinical risks, recorded as per routine care.Materials and MethodsRetrospective data from 27,927 parturitions (single UK tertiary site, 2001–2010) were analyzed. Cases were included if the pregnancy was singleton, ≥36 weeks' gestation, cephalic presentation, and if they had routine intrapartum CTG as per clinical care. Cases with congenital abnormalities, planned cesarean section (CS), or CS for reasons other than “presumed fetal compromise” were excluded. We analyzed first-hour intrapartum CTG recordings, using intrapartum Oxford System (OxSys) computer-based algorithms. To reflect the effect of routine clinical care, the data was stratified into three exclusive groups: infants delivered by CS for “presumed fetal compromise” within 2 h of starting the CTG (Emergency CS, n = 113); between 2 and 5 h of starting the CTG (Urgent CS, n = 203); and the rest of deliveries (Others, n = 27,611). First-hour CTG and clinical characteristics were compared between the groups, sub-divided to those with and without severe compromise: a composite outcome of stillbirth, neonatal death, neonatal seizures, encephalopathy, resuscitation followed by ≥48 h in neonatal intensive care unit. Two-sample t-test, X2 test, and Fisher's exact test were used for analysis.ResultsCompared to babies without severe compromise, those with compromise had significantly higher proportion of cases with baseline fetal heart rate ≥150 bpm; non-reactive trace; reduced long-term and short-term variability; decelerative capacity; and no accelerations in the first-hour CTG across all groups. Prolonged decelerations(≥3 min) were also more common. Thick meconium and small for gestational age were consistently more common in compromised infants across all groups. There was more often thick meconium, maternal fever ≥38 C, sentinel events, and other clinical risk factors in the Emergency CS and Urgent CS compared to the Others group.ConclusionA proportion of infants born with severe compromise had significantly different first-hour CTG features and clinical risk factors.
Frontiers in Pediatrics
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