Central Fetal Monitoring: Effect on Perinatal Outcomes and Cesarean Section Rate

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Abstract:

ABSTRACT: 

Background: In a trend similar to continuous electronic fetal monitoring, many hospitals are incorporating central fetal monitoring into labor and delivery suites. The objective of this study was to investigate whether the use of central fetal monitoring had an effect on neonatal outcomes or cesarean section rate. Methods: This retrospective study involved patient data from deliveries occurring at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, between the years 2000 and 2003. In the period from January 1, 2000, to December 31, 2001, central fetal monitoring was available, whereas in the period from February 1, 2002, to December 31, 2003, it was unavailable. Data on deliveries at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo were obtained using the Western New York Perinatal Data System, which is an electronic data set based on birth certificate information. The method of delivery, admission to the neonatal intensive care unit, and 5-minute Apgar scores less than 7 were compared for deliveries occurring with and without the use of central fetal monitoring. These outcomes were further subdivided into full-term and preterm deliveries. Results: Three thousand five hundred and twelve deliveries used central monitoring and 3,007 deliveries did not. For full-term deliveries, in the years with central fetal monitoring compared with the years without it, no differences in the cesarean section rate (13.4 vs 14.5%, not significant [NS]), the admission rate in neonatal intensive care unit (3.3 vs 3.3%, NS), or the incidence of Apgar score less than 7 (0.6 vs 0.5%, NS) were observed. For preterm deliveries, comparing the years with central fetal monitoring with the years without, no differences in the cesarean section rate (21.3 vs 21.3%, NS), the admission rate in neonatal intensive care unit (17.7 vs 20.1%, NS), or the incidence of Apgar score less than 7 (7.0 vs 6.5%, NS) were observed. Analyses pooling all deliveries also failed to show any differences in any of the parameters. Conclusions: No statistically significant difference was demonstrated in the rates of cesarean section, admission to the neonatal intensive care unit, or incidence of Apgar scores of less than 7 associated with the use of central fetal monitoring. Therefore, we could not identify any benefit to the use of central fetal heart rate monitoring. (BIRTH 33:4 December 2006)

Keywords: cesarean section; fetal monitoring; neonatal outcomes

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1523-536X.2006.00120.x

Affiliations: 1: James Shelton is a Clinical Assistant Professor and Data Manager Perinatal Data System 2: Emily Fleming is a Clinical Instructor, Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, University at Buffalo, Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, USA.

Publication date: December 1, 2006

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