Resuscitation of depressed newborn infants with ambient air or pure oxygen: a meta-analysis

Biol Neonate. 2005;87(1):27-34. doi: 10.1159/000080950. Epub 2004 Sep 20.


Background: It is discussed whether depressed newborn infants should be resuscitated with room air or 100% O2.

Objective: To perform a systematic review and meta-analysis including studies that report resuscitation of depressed newly born infants with 21 or 100% O2.

Methods: Inclusion criterion was randomized or pseudo-randomized, blinded or not, studies of depressed newborn infants resuscitated with either 21 or 100% O2. The literature was searched in Medline/Pubmed/EMBASE and The Cochrane library databases. All identified studies were included.

Results: Five studies fulfilled the inclusion criterion in which 881 infants were resuscitated with 21% O2 and 856 with 100% O2. Neonatal mortality was 8.0 vs. 13.0% in the 21 and 100% O2 groups respectively, OR 0.57, 95% CI 0.42-0.78. In term infants neonatal mortality was 5.9% in the 21% O2 group and 9.8% in the 100% O2 group, OR 0.59, 95% CI 0.40-0.87. The figures for the premature infants were very similar. In infants with 1-min Apgar score <4, OR for neonatal mortality was 0.81 (95% CI 0.54-1.21). Apgar score at 5 min and heart rate at 90 s were significantly higher, and time to first breath significantly earlier in infants given 21% O2 compared with 100% O2.

Conclusions: A systematic review and meta-analysis demonstrated that neonatal mortality is significantly reduced when depressed newly born infants are resuscitated with ambient air instead of pure oxygen. For infants with low 1-min Apgar score (<4), no significant difference in neonatal mortality was found. Recovery was faster in infants resuscitated with 21% O2 than 100% O2.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Air*
  • Apgar Score
  • Asphyxia Neonatorum / therapy*
  • Birth Weight
  • Gestational Age
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Infant Mortality
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Oxygen / administration & dosage*
  • Oxygen / adverse effects
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Resuscitation / methods*


  • Oxygen