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Br J Obstet Gynaecol. 1997 Oct;104(10):1123-7.

Long term outcome after umbilical artery acidaemia at term birth: influence of gender and duration of fetal heart rate abnormalities.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University Hospital, Lund, Sweden.



To study the outcome after acidaemia at term birth, and the relation to gender and duration of pathological fetal heart rate changes.


Population based study of 154 infants with umbilical artery pH < 7.05 at term birth. Neonatal outcome and the result of developmental screening at age four years were compared with a control group with pH > 7.10. Fetal heart rate traces in infants with acidaemia were reviewed, and the relation between duration of fetal heart rate changes and outcome was analysed.


Of the 154 newborns with acidaemia at birth, 10 had encephalopathy, of which two died and two developed cerebral palsy. Nine of these 10 infants were boys, and eight had pH < 7.00. Male newborns (n = 39) more often had pronounced acidaemia (pH < 7.00) than females (n = 22). Although few infants had severe impairment, infants born with acidaemia significantly more often had speech problems at follow up than controls (19/102 versus 8/98; P = 0.03). In infants with acidaemia, duration of abnormal fetal heart rate changes was significantly associated with neonatal encephalopathy and speech problems at age four years.


Acidaemia at term birth was associated with neonatal encephalopathy and with speech problems at four years of age. Boys had more often pronounced acidaemia and a complicated course. A protracted abnormal fetal heart rate trace was associated with poor outcome.

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