Background. To determine if the labor admission test (LAT) can predict fetal distress in a population of laboring women, and in subgroups of low- or high-risk women, who delivered within six hours or between six and 24 hours after LAT.
Methods. The data charts of all women who delivered at Hammerfest Hospital in 1996, 1997 and 1998 were retrospectively read. If the woman was admitted to the hospital because of onset of labor, was in the first stage of labor and delivered within 24 hours after admission, she was included. In the study period, 1639 gave birth and 932 were included in the study. A descriptive analysis of the population and assessment of LAT’s sensitivity, positive predictive value, specificity and negative predictive value at different cut-off values was done.
Results. In the study population 5.8% had fetal distress, and 5.3% had an operative delivery because of fetal distress. LAT’s sensitivity in the whole population was 0.15 and positive predictive value was 0.16. Specificity was 0.95 and positive predictive value was 0.95. In the subgroups of low- and high-risk women, who delivered within six hours or between six and 24 hours after LAT, sensitivity varied between 0 and 0.36, and positive predictive value varied between 0 and 0.27. Specificity varied between 0.92 and 0.96, and negative predictive value varied between 0.89 and 0.97.
Conclusions. According to these results, LAT cannot be recommended as a screening test for fetal distress in labor in low-risk women. Sensitivity is too low, and there are too many false-positive tests. It is unclear if LAT has benefits among high-risk women.