Is intrapartum asphyxia preventable?


Dr J-C Becher, Department of Neonatology, Simpson Centre for Reproductive Health, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH16 4SA, UK. Email


The contribution of intrapartum events to asphyxia-related mortality and morbidity and the degree to which it may be prevented are controversial. We examined trends in asphyxia-related mortality and morbidity in a single large regional perinatal centre. Between 1994 and 2005, the rate of asphyxia fell from 2.86/1000 births in 1994 to 0.91/1000 births in 2005 (P < 0.001). Hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy of all grades fell from 2.41 to 0.77/1000 live births (P < 0.001). This substantial and steady fall in the rate of asphyxia-related mortality and morbidity over a 12-year period suggests that a significant proportion of cases of intrapartum asphyxia may be preventable.