Please cite this paper as: Leung T, Stuart O, Sahota D, Suen S, Lau T, Lao T. Head-to-body delivery interval and risk of fetal acidosis and hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy in shoulder dystocia: a retrospective review. BJOG 2011;118:474–479.
Objective To examine the association between head-to-body delivery interval (HBDI) and cord arterial pH and base excess (BE), and the risk of development of hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE).
Design Retrospective review.
Setting A university hospital.
Population Pregnancies complicated with shoulder dystocia during the period 1995–2009.
Methods Cases were identified from a search of the hospital electronic delivery records. Cord arterial pH and BE, and the incidence of HIE and perinatal death, were retrieved from medical records and correlated with HBDI, birth weight, mode of delivery and presence of nonreassuring fetal heart rate pattern and maternal diabetes using univariate analysis, followed by multivariate analysis.
Main outcome measures Any association between cord pH and HBDI.
Results Of the 200 cases identified, the mean (standard deviation) HBDI was 2.5 minutes (1.5 minutes). Both HBDI and the presence of nonreassuring fetal heart rate pattern were independent factors for pH, and HBDI was the only significant factor for BE. Arterial pH dropped at a rate of 0.011 per minute [95% confidence interval (95% CI), 0.017–0.004; P = 0.002] with HBDI. The mode of delivery, birth weight and maternal diabetes did not affect blood gas levels. The respective risks of severe acidosis (pH < 7) and HIE with HBDI of <5 minutes were 0.5% and 0.5% versus 5.9% and 23.5% with HBDI ≥ 5 minutes.
Conclusions Cord arterial pH drops with HBDI during shoulder dystocia, but the risk of acidosis or HIE is very low with HBDI < 5 minutes.