Aim: Differentiating features were sought for respiratory distress after water birth versus air birth in term low-risk babies. Clinical and X-ray features were to be assessed to determine if the disease processes could be differentiated.
Methods: Review of case records and X-rays over a 7-year period for all admitted babies with respiratory distress after water birth and a similar group of babies with respiratory distress after air birth.
Results: There were 14 water birth babies and 24 air birth babies in the study. The water birth babies showed greater acidosis, greater requirement for ventilation, greater requirement for nitric oxide treatment and greater time to establish feeding. The X-rays could not be reliably allocated to the correct group, but the water birth X-rays were judged to have more severe changes than the air birth babies.
Conclusion: In low-risk babies with respiratory distress, water birth is associated with a greater level of respiratory morbidity than seen after air birth.