Childbirth Monitoring Research
Thacker SB, Stroup D, Chang M. Continuous electronic heart rate monitoring for fetal assessment during labor (Cochrane Review). In: The Cochrane Library, Issue 1, 2004. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
This review found that the only benefit to coninuous ehrm is in the reduction of neonatal seizures. Because continuous EFM increases C-sect and operative delivery rates it is recommended that the woman and doctor discuss the benefits and risks of continuous EFM before deciding to use.
Bricker L, Neilson JP. Routine Doppler ultrasound in pregnancy (Cochrane Review). In: The Cochrane Library, Issue 1, 2004. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Reviewers' conclusions: Based on existing evidence, routine Doppler ultrasound in low risk or unselected populations does not confer benefit on mother or baby. Future research should be powerful enough to address small changes in perinatal outcome, and should include evaluation of maternal psychological effects, long term outcomes such as neurodevelopment, and issues of safety.
Bricker L, Neilson JP. Routine ultrasound in late pregnancy (after 24 weeks gestation) (Cochrane Review). In: The Cochrane Library, Issue 1, 2004. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Reviewers' conclusions: Based on existing evidence, routine late pregnancy ultrasound in low risk or unselected populations does not confer benefit on mother or baby. There is a lack of data about the potential psychological effects of routine ultrasound in late pregnancy, and the effects on both short and long term neonatal and childhood outcome. Placental grading in the third trimester may be valuable, but whether reported results are reproducible remains to be seen, and future research of late pregnancy ultrasound should include evaluation of placental textural assessment.
ACOG Technical Bulletin Number 132 - September 1989
"Previously, it had been presumed that continuous electronic fetal monitoring would be more sensitive and accurate than intermittent ausculation in detecing heart rate patterns that indicated significant fetal compromise. This presumption has not been supported by recent randomized prospective studies, however. Currently available data support the conclusion that, within specified intervals, intermittent auscultation is equivalent to continuous electronic fetal monitoring in detecting fetal compromise."
Luthy DA, Shy KK, van Belle G, et al. A randomized trial of electronic fetal monitoring in preterm labor. Obstet Gynecol 1987; 69:687-95.
Abstract: Intrapartum electronic fetal heart rate (FHR) monitroing and fetal blood gas sampling were compared with periodoic auscultation of FHR in a multicentered randomized trial of preterm singleton pregnancies with fetal weights of 700-1750 g. Two hundred fory-six pregnancies were studied (electronic FHR monitoring N=122, auscultation N=124). Perinatal or infant death was associated with 14% of pregnancies with electronic FHR monitoring and 15% with auscultation. No significant differences were noted in the prevalence of low five-minute Apgar scores, intrapartum acidosis, intracranial hemorrhage, or frequency of cesarean section (P > .10). Cormpared with electronic FHR monitoring, intrapartum auscultation as done in this study is unlikely to be associated with detectable difference in perinatal outcomes within the high-risk setting of preterm labor.
Shy KK, Luthy DA, Bennett FC, et al. Effects of electronic fetal heart rate monitoring as compared with periodic auscultation on the neurologic development of premature infants. N England J of Med 1990; 322:588-93.
Abstract: In a multicenter, randomized clinical trial, we assessed the early neurologic development of 93 children born prematurely whose heart rates were monitored electronically during delivery and compared it with that of 96 children born prematurely whose heart rates were periodically monitored by auscultation. All the children were singletons with cephalic presentation, and all weighed less than or equal to 1750 g at birth. The mental and psychomotor indexes of the Bayley Scales of Infant Development (standardized mean score +/- SD, 100 +/- 16) and a formal neurologic examination were administered at three follow-up visits (at 4, 8, and 18 months of age, corrected for gestational age). At 18 months, the mean mental-development scores in the groups receiving electronic fetal monitoring and periodic auscultation were 100.5 +/- 2.4 and 104.9 +/- 1.8, respectively (P greater than 0.1). The mean psychomotor-development scores in the two groups at 18 months were 94.0 +/- 2.4 and 98.3 +/- 1.8, respectively (P greater than 0.1). The incidence of cerebral palsy was higher in the electronically monitored group--20 percent as compared with 8 percent in the group that was monitored by auscultation (P less than 0.03). In the electronic-fetal-monitoring group (but not in the periodic-auscultation group), the risk of cerebral palsy increased with the duration of abnormal fetal-heart-rate patterns, as assessed by retrospective review (chi 2 trend = 12.71, P less than 0.001). The median time to delivery after the diagnosis of abnormal fetal-heart-rate patterns was 104 minutes with electronic fetal monitoring, as compared with 60 minutes with periodic auscultation. We conclude that as compared with a structured program of periodic auscultation, electronic fetal monitoring does not result in improved neurologic development in children born prematurely.
Leveno KJ, Cunningham FG, Nelson S, et al. A prospective comparison of selective and universal electronic fetal monitoring in 34,995 pregnancies. N Engl J Med 1986:615-9.
Abstract: We investigated the effects of using intrapartum electronic fetal monitoring in all pregnancies, as compared with using it onl in cases in which the fetus is judged to be at high risk. Predominant risk factors included oxytocin stimulation of labor, dysfunctional labor, abnormal fetal heart rate, or meconium-stained amniotic fluid. This prospective alternat-month clinical trial took place over a 36-month period during which 34,995 women gave birth. In alternate months, either 7 (for "selective monitoring) or 19 (for "universal monitoring") fetal monitors were made available in the labor and delivery unit. During the "selective" months, 6420 of 17,409 women (37 percent) were electronically monitored, as compared with 13,956 of 17,586 women (79 percent) during the "universal months."
Universal monitoring was associated with a small but significant increase in teh incidence of delivery by cesarean section because of fetal distress, but perinatal outcomes as assesed by intrapartum stillbirths, low Apgar scores, a need for assisted ventilation of the newborn, admission to the intensive care nursery, or neonatal seizures were not significantly different.
We conclude that not all pregnancies, and particularly not those considered at low risk of perinatal complications, need continuous electronic fetal monitoring duirng labor.
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