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Newborn heart rate monitoring methods at birth and clinical outcomes: A systematic review


Compare heart rate assessment methods in the delivery room on newborn clinical outcomes.


A search of Medline, SCOPUS, CINAHL and Cochrane was conducted between January 1, 1946, to until August 16, 2023. (CRD 42021283438) Study Selection was based on predetermined criteria. Reviewers independently extracted data, appraised risk of bias and assessed certainty of evidence.


Two randomized controlled trials involving 91 newborns and 1 nonrandomized study involving 632 newborns comparing electrocardiogram (ECG) to auscultation plus pulse oximetry were included. No studies were found that compared any other heart rate measurement methods and reported clinical outcomes. There was no difference between the ECG and control group for duration of positive pressure ventilation, time to heart rate ≥ 100 beats per minute, epinephrine use or death before discharge. In the randomized studies, there was no difference in rate of tracheal intubation [RR 1.34, 95% CI (0.69–2.59)]. No participants received chest compressions. In the nonrandomized study, fewer infants were intubated in the ECG group [RR 0.75, 95% CI (0.62–0.90)]; however, for chest compressions, benefit or harm could not be excluded. [RR 2.14, 95% (CI 0.98–4.70)].


There is insufficient evidence to ascertain clinical benefits or harms associated with the use of ECG versus pulse oximetry plus auscultation for heart rate assessment in newborns in the delivery room.


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