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Home Wellness Research Electronic Fetal Monitoring Effects of Electronic Fetal-Heart-Rate Monitoring, As Compared With Periodic Auscultation, on the Neurologic Development of Premature Infants

Effects of Electronic Fetal-Heart-Rate Monitoring, As Compared With Periodic Auscultation, on the Neurologic Development of Premature Infants

Thursday, 18 December 2008 10:16

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 hree 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 wo 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. Author-abstract.

Shy, K. K. et al. 1990.  New England Journal of Medicine 322:588-93.