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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1984 Mar 1;148(5):490-8.

Changing patterns of birth asphyxia and trauma over 20 years.


Comparison of birth asphyxia and trauma in the same obstetric service during periods 18 years apart shows some reassuring and some disquieting findings. Liberalized cesarean sections, electronic monitoring of fetal heart in labor, and replacement of opiate sedation by epidural anesthesia have had their effect. There has been dramatic reduction in perinatal death and neonatal encephalopathy due to birth asphyxia and trauma and only rarely do affected infants now develop permanent cerebral injury. Severe birth asphyxia, defined by need for prolonged ventilation, has, however, remained unchanged in frequency. Unexpectedly, fractures and paralyses have dramatically increased. The major hazard today for the term infant is the use of midforceps, which has become much more common in parallel with the increased use of pain relief by continuous epidural anesthesia.

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