The need for delivery room intubation of thin meconium in the low-risk newborn: a clinical trial

W F Liu, T Harrington
American Journal of Perinatology 1998, 15 (12): 675-82
The delivery room management of meconium-stained amniotic fluid remains controversial. We attempted to determine if intubation of the low-risk newborn with thin meconium affects the incidence of respiratory symptoms. Exclusion criterion included moderate or thick meconium, fetal distress, neonatal depression, or prematurity. Eligible infants were randomized to either an intubation (group I) or to a nonintubation group (group II). The outcome was the presence of respiratory symptoms. Patients were studied from May 1994 to June 1997. There were 8967 births during this period: 7.9% (708/8967) were delivered through meconium. Thin meconium was noted in 50.3% (356/708) of all births. 24/356 infants with thin meconium were excluded for medical criterion. One hundred sixty-three infants were medically eligible but could not be randomized due to lack of consent, late arrival of the team, or obstetrician request. These were placed into intubation (group I B) and nonintubation (group II B) groups. Seventy-seven infants were randomized into group I and 92 infants into group II. From the intubation groups I and I B, one required supplemental oxygen and was weaned to room air in 7 hr. From the nonintubation groups II and II B, two infants required oxygen, weaning to room air in 11 and 46 hr. Comparing birth weight, gestational age, sex, mode of delivery and 5-min Apgar, there were no significant differences. However, the intubation groups had significantly lower 1-min Apgar scores. There was no airway morbidity reported in the intubation groups. In the infant with thin meconium and an otherwise low-risk pregnancy, we were unable to demonstrate a difference in respiratory symptoms with intubation and intratracheal suctioning.

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