Background: Delivery room resuscitation of hypoxic newborn infants with pure or 100% oxygen causes oxidative toxicity and increases mortality. Current international resuscitation guidelines therefore recommend that oxygen be used judiciously. However, this requires staff education and special equipment that may not be available in non-tertiary maternity hospitals where the majority of births occur.
Aim: To determine current attitudes, practices and available equipment for the use of air and blended oxygen for newborn delivery room resuscitation in non-tertiary maternity hospitals of Australia and New Zealand (ANZ).
Methods: Structured questionnaires sent by mail and e-mail after personal phone contact. A total of 203 eligible hospitals in ANZ were identified. A second mailing was conducted a month later for non-responders.
Responders: Final response rate was 64% (n= 130: 70% physicians, 30% midwives). The majority (121, 93%) of respondents were aware of Australian Resuscitation Council recommendations, but only one in five hospitals had the capacity to deliver blended oxygen and 38% used pulse oximeters at delivery. Only 24 (18.5%) hospitals had guidelines. Air would be used by 68 (57%) hospitals to resuscitate term infants compared to 35 (31%) for preterm infants. Most (111, 91%) advocated the use of blended oxygen despite the lack of facilities.
Conclusion: Only one in five ANZ non-tertiary maternity hospitals had the capacity to resuscitate newborn infants with air or blended oxygen. Most are aware of current recommendations and agreed that the use of less oxygen would be beneficial for this purpose. Further study into the necessary infrastructure required to implement these guidelines are recommended.