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Obstet Gynecol. 1997 Feb;89(2):217-20.

Cesarean deliveries: when is a pediatrician necessary?

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Alaska Neonatology Associates, P.C., Anchorage, USA.



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.


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).


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).


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.

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