Does training in obstetric emergencies improve neonatal outcome?

BJOG. 2006 Feb;113(2):177-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2006.00800.x.


Objectives: To determine whether the introduction of Obstetrics Emergency Training in line with the recommendations of the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts (CNST) was associated with a reduction in perinatal asphyxia and neonatal hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE).

Design: A retrospective cohort observational study.

Setting: A tertiary referral maternity unit in a teaching hospital.

Population: Term, cephalic presenting, singleton infants born at Southmead Hospital between 1998 and 2003 were identified; those born by elective Caesarean sections were excluded.

Method: Five-minute Apgar scores were reviewed. Infants that developed HIE were prospectively identified throughout this period. The study compared the period 'pre-training' (1998-1999), with the period 'post-training' (2001-2003).

Main outcome measures: Five-minute Apgar scores and HIE.

Results: Infants (19,460) were included. Infants born with 5-minute Apgar scores of <or=6 decreased from 86.6 to 44.6 per 10,000 births (P<0.001) and those with HIE decreased from 27.3 to 13.6 per 10,000 births (P=0.032) following the introduction of the training courses in 2000. Antepartum and intrapartum stillbirth at term rates remained unchanged, at about 15 and 4 per 10,000 births, respectively.

Conclusion: The introduction of obstetric emergencies training courses was associated with a significant reduction in low 5-minute Apgar scores and HIE. This improvement has been sustained as the training has continued. This is the first time an educational intervention has been shown to be associated with a clinically important, and sustained, improvement in perinatal outcome.

MeSH terms

  • Apgar Score
  • Asphyxia Neonatorum / prevention & control*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Emergency Medicine / education*
  • Female
  • Fetal Death
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia-Ischemia, Brain / prevention & control*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Obstetrics / education*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stillbirth