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Pediatrics. 2000 Jan;105(1 Pt 1):1-7.

Delivery room management of the apparently vigorous meconium-stained neonate: results of the multicenter, international collaborative trial.

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Neonatology services at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.



Disagreement exists concerning the appropriate delivery room management of the airway of vigorous meconium-stained infants. Some suggest a universal approach to intubation and suctioning of the airway in all such neonates, whereas others advocate a selective approach. We performed this investigation: 1) to assess whether intubation and suctioning of apparently vigorous, meconium-stained neonates would reduce the incidence of meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS); and 2) to determine the frequency of complications from delivery room intubation and suctioning of such infants.


Inclusion criteria included: 1) gestational age >/=37 weeks; 2) birth through meconium-stained amniotic fluid of any consistency; and 3) apparent vigor immediately after birth. Subjects were randomized to be intubated and suctioned (INT) or to expectant management (EXP). Primary outcome measures included: 1) the incidence of respiratory distress, including MAS, and 2) the incidence of complications from intubation.


A total of 2094 neonates were enrolled from 12 participating centers (1051 INT and 1043 EXP). Meconium-stained amniotic fluid consistency was similar in both groups. Of the 149 (7.1%) infants that subsequently demonstrated respiratory distress, 62 (3.0%) had MAS and 87 (4.2%) had findings attributed to other disorders. There were no significant differences between groups in the occurrence of MAS (INT = 3.2%; EXP = 2.7%) or in the development of other respiratory disorders (INT = 3.8%; EXP = 4.5%). Of 1098 successfully intubated infants, 42 (3.8%) had a total of 51 complications of the procedure. In all cases, the complications were mild and transient in nature.


Compared with expectant management, intubation and suctioning of the apparently vigorous meconium-stained infant does not result in a decreased incidence of MAS or other respiratory disorders. Complications of intubation are infrequent and short-lived.

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