Neonatal resuscitation: raising the bar

Curr Opin Pediatr. 2004 Apr;16(2):157-62. doi: 10.1097/00008480-200404000-00007.


Purpose of review: To provide an overview of neonatal resuscitation practices with an emphasis on interventions that are not currently accepted or adapted into existing resuscitation guidelines.

Recent findings: Current resuscitation guidelines do not contain specific guidelines for the approach to the extremely low birth weight infant. The differences in environment and management between the neonatal ICU and delivery room are striking and are magnified in the resuscitation of extremely low birth weight infants for whom maintenance of a neutral thermal environment is essential. The use of a polyethylene wrap applied at delivery has been shown to reduce the occurrence of hypothermia and decrease mortality. There is substantial evidence that term and near-term newborn infants can be effectively resuscitated with room air, and recent follow-up studies have demonstrated that this approach is not associated with increased significant differences in neurologic handicap, somatic growth, or developmental milestones when compared with the use of 100% oxygen. The safety and potential benefits of this approach require prospective evaluation in the premature and especially extremely low birth weight infant. There is preexisting evidence that demonstrates that the use of prolonged inflations and t-piece resuscitators may be advantageous during resuscitation, but not all guidelines support these interventions. Although regulated continuous positive airway pressure, pulse oximeters, and blenders are routinely used once an infant is admitted to the neonatal ICU, none of these interventions is recommended in the delivery area. Although prospective studies have demonstrated that the use of colorimetric CO2 detectors significantly decreases the time to recognize misplaced endotracheal tubes placed during resuscitation, their use is not required by current guidelines. The duration of an intubation attempt during resuscitation had never been prospectively evaluated, and our recent findings suggest that a limit of 30 seconds is well tolerated and provides adequate time for a successful attempt.

Summary: There is significant potential for improvement in current resuscitation environments and interventions that will only be realized through further prospective research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Temperature
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn / physiology*
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight / physiology
  • Oximetry
  • Oxygen Inhalation Therapy
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration
  • Resuscitation / methods*