Research Summary: Lower versus Higher Oxygen Concentration for Delivery Room Stabilisation of Preterm Neonates: Systematic Review



Emerging evidence suggests that initiating delivery room respiratory support or resuscitation for term infants using lower rather than higher concentrations of oxygen reduces mortality and the risk of serious morbidity. Uncertainty exists with regard to applicability of this strategy for preterm infants who have different underlying reasons for respiratory distress and risks for harm at birth than term infants.


We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials to determine the effect on mortality and morbidity of using lower (21– 50%) versus higher (>50%) oxygen concentrations for delivery room transition support of preterm infants.


We identified six randomised controlled trials in which a total of 484 infants participated. Most participants were preterm infants born before 32 weeks’ gestation. One trial was quasi-randomised and in one trial allocation concealment was not described. Clinicians and investigators were aware of the interventions in all but one trial. Meta-analyses found a statistically significant reduction in the risk of death pooled risk ratio 0.65 (95% confidence interval 0.43, 0.98), but this effect disappeared when only the four trials with adequate allocation concealment were included [pooled risk ratio 1.0 (95% confidence interval 0.45, 2.24)]. None of the trials has evaluated any neuro-developmental outcomes.


The available trial data do not provide strong evidence that using lower versus higher oxygen concentrations for delivery room transition support for preterm infants confers important benefits or harms. Lack of allocation concealment and blinding of clinicians and assessors are the major sources of bias in the existing trials. Further, large, good-quality trials are needed to resolve on-going uncertainties and inform clinical practice.


Publisher: Public Library of Science

Date Published: 20-December-2012

Author(s): Brown J., Moe-Byrne T., Harden M., McGuire W.


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