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J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2012 Oct;25 Suppl 4:108-10. doi: 10.3109/14767058.2012.714982.

SpO2 and retinopathy of prematurity: state of the art.

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  • 1Neonatology and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Niguarda Ca' Granda Hospital, Milan, Italy. stefano.martinelli@ospedaleniguarda.it



To evaluate the relationship between arterial saturation values determined by pulse oximetry in the first weeks of life on the incidence of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP).


Randomized and observational studies were sought that compare the incidence of ROP in babies with high or low oxygen saturation targeting assisted by pulse oximetry.


Over the last 15 years, evidence from experimental models of ROP and clinical studies, albeit not randomized trials, has shown a reduction in the incidence of ROP and other neonatal morbidities when very preterm newborns were targeted to a lower level of arterial oxygen saturation during their hospitalization, particularly in the first few weeks after birth. More recent evidence from randomized controlled trials confirms that targeting to a lower vs higher level of oxygenation from birth to 36 weeks postmenstrual age (PMA) or to hospital discharge reduces the incidence of ROP requiring treatment by 50% but is correlated with higher mortality rates.


Future randomized, controlled trials should be designed including a cohort of infants in which a more dynamic approach to saturation targeting is adopted, i.e. lower saturation levels in the first few weeks of life and higher saturation levels after the 32 weeks of PMA.

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