The fetal-to-neonatal transition poses an extraordinary challenge for extremely low birth weight (ELBW) infants, and postnatal stabilization in the delivery room (DR) remains challenging. The initiation of air respiration and the establishment of a functional residual capacity are essential and often require ventilatory support and oxygen supplementation. In recent years, there has been a tendency towards the soft-landing strategy and, subsequently, non-invasive positive pressure ventilation has been generally recommended by international guidelines as the first option for stabilizing ELBW in the delivery room. On the other hand, supplementation with oxygen is another cornerstone of the postnatal stabilization of ELBW infants. To date, the conundrum concerning the optimal initial inspired fraction of oxygen, target saturations in the first golden minutes, and oxygen titration to achieve desired stability saturation and heart rate values has not yet been solved. Moreover, the retardation of cord clamping together with the initiation of ventilation with the patent cord (physiologic-based cord clamping) have added additional complexity to this puzzle. In the present review, we critically address these relevant topics related to fetal-to-neonatal transitional respiratory physiology, ventilatory stabilization, and oxygenation of ELBW infants in the delivery room based on current evidence and the most recent guidelines for newborn stabilization.
Keywords: fetal-to-neonatal transition; micropreemie; non-invasive ventilation; oxygenation; prematurity.