Objective: To examine whether nuchal cord affects fetal lipid peroxidation and cord arterial blood gases, and thus to determine whether lipid peroxidation can show intrapartum distress.
Methods: Pregnant women giving birth to a baby with nuchal cord (n = 32) formed the study group and others without this condition made up the control group (n = 36). The maternal malondialdehyde levels (MDA) before and after delivery as well as fetal umbilical cord MDA and arterial blood gases were measured in both the groups.
Results: Mean cord MDA level was higher in the study group (p < 0.02) and was significantly higher than maternal MDA level after birth within the same group (p = 0.007). Cord blood gases as well as neonatal and labour characteristics showed no difference, except for variable decelerations, which were 2.2 times more common in the study group. Correlations between maternal MDA levels before and after delivery, umbilical cord MDA and arterial blood gases were non-significant in the nuchal cord group.
Conclusions: During delivery, nuchal cord increases lipid peroxidation without causing significant fetal acidemia. Level of lipid peroxidation may be a more sensitive indicator of intrapartum distress than results of acid-base studies.