Severe acidosis and subsequent neurologic status

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1990 Mar;162(3):802-6. doi: 10.1016/0002-9378(90)91014-4.


To examine the relationship between severe acidosis at birth and evidence of subsequent neurologic dysfunction, a 4-year review was performed encompassing 15,528 neonates. One hundred forty-two (0.91%) of these neonates had an umbilical cord arterial pH less than or equal to 7.05 with a base deficit greater than or equal to mEq/L. Neurologic assessments found 101 of 110 term neonates (91.8%) and 17 of 32 preterm neonates (53.1%) with severe acidosis to be free of neurologic deficits at the time of hospital discharge. Follow-up developmental evaluation data were available for 7 of 9 term neonates and 8 of 15 preterm neonates with abnormal examinations. Although 5 term and 6 preterm infants demonstrated mild developmental delays or mild tone abnormalities in the first year of life, none exhibited a major motor or cognitive abnormality at 12 to 24 months of age. Consequently, acidosis in umbilical cord blood, even when severe, is a poor predictor of subsequent neurologic dysfunction.

MeSH terms

  • Acid-Base Equilibrium
  • Acidosis / blood
  • Acidosis / physiopathology*
  • Carbon Dioxide / blood
  • Child Development
  • Delivery, Obstetric*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Infant, Newborn / growth & development
  • Nervous System / physiopathology*
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Partial Pressure
  • Time Factors


  • Carbon Dioxide