Cesarean deliveries: when is a pediatrician necessary?

Obstet Gynecol. 1997 Feb;89(2):217-20. doi: 10.1016/S0029-7844(96)00430-9.


Objective: We evaluated the need for vigorous resuscitation (bag-and-mask ventilation, tracheal intubation, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation) in certain common cesarean deliveries at term to evaluate the need for pediatrician attendance on behalf of the fetus.

Methods: Records of singleton cesarean deliveries (repeat, nonprogressive labor, fetal malposition, fetal heart rate abnormality) at term over 2 years were reviewed for the following: need for vigorous resuscitation, Apgar scores, anesthesia used, and the need for newborn intensive care. The next consecutive, uncomplicated singleton vaginal delivery in each case was used to create a control group. Exclusion criteria included the presence of maternal disease (diabetes, pregnancy-induced hypertension, placenta previa) or suspicion of fetal abnormalities (growth restriction, congenital defect, known meconium staining of the amniotic fluid). There were 834 cesarean deliveries and 834 controls (low-risk vaginal deliveries).

Results: Compared with vaginal deliveries, Apgar scores of 6 or less at 1 minute were more frequent in all cesarean deliveries except for the repeat cesarean category. The incidence of needing vigorous resuscitation was as follows: vaginal 1.7%, repeat 3.0%, nonprogressive labor 4.8%, fetal malposition 11.2%, and fetal heart rate abnormality 17.7%. The use of regional anesthesia reduced the need for vigorous resuscitation in cesarean deliveries for the repeat group and the group with nonprogressive labor without fetal heart rate abnormalities to a level similar to that in uncomplicated vaginal deliveries (2.1% repeat; 1.6% nonprogressive labor without fetal heart rate abnormality).

Conclusions: Both repeat cesarean deliveries and cesareans done for nonprogressive labor without signs of fetal heart rate abnormality, when performed under regional anesthesia, may not need a pediatrician in attendance because of minimal fetal risk.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anesthesia
  • Apgar Score
  • Cesarean Section*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care, Neonatal / statistics & numerical data*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pediatrics*
  • Pregnancy
  • Resuscitation / statistics & numerical data*