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Making a choice: initial fraction of inspired oxygen for resuscitation at birth of a premature infant less than 32 weeks gestational age

Authors Moore G, Navabi B

Received 23 November 2013

Accepted for publication 26 November 2013

Published 31 January 2014 Volume 2014:4 Pages 1—7

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/RRN.S58137

Checked for plagiarism Yes


Gregory P Moore,1–3 Behdad Navabi2

1Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, 2Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Newborn Care, The Ottawa Hospital General Campus, 3Department of Pediatrics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada

As briefly noted by Abdel-Hady and Nasef in their 2012 publication in Research and Reports in Neonatology,1 the best initial fraction of inspired oxygen (FiO2) to use during resuscitation of preterm neonates <32 weeks gestational age (GA) has not been clearly elucidated. Most recent neonatal resuscitation guidelines leave the difficult choice of the actual FiO2 in the hands of individual physicians. We believe that this letter, through review and discussion of the recent published literature, will aid physicians in this choice and confirm that, as per the opinion of Abdel-Hady and Nasef, the best present evidence-based choice for the initial FiO2 for resuscitating preterm infants <32 weeks GA appears to be 30%. However, determination of the ideal initial resuscitation gas requires further research assessing both short-term and long-term outcomes.

View original paper by Abdel-Hady and Nasef.

Dear editor

As briefly noted by Abdel-Hady and Nasef in their 2012 publication in Research and Reports in Neonatology,1 the best initial fraction of inspired oxygen (FiO2) to use during resuscitation of preterm neonates <32 weeks gestational age (GA) has not been clearly elucidated. Most recent neonatal resuscitation guidelines leave the difficult choice of the actual FiO2 in the hands of individual physicians. We believe that this letter, through review and discussion of the recent published literature, will aid physicians in this choice and confirm that, as per the opinion of Abdel-Hady and Nasef, the best present evidence-based choice for the initial FiO2 for resuscitating preterm infants <32 weeks GA appears to be 30%. However, determination of the ideal initial resuscitation gas requires further research assessing both short-term and long-term outcomes.

The common clinical scenario of attending the birth of a premature infant brings up an important clinical question: in an infant born at <32 weeks GA (population), does the use of a low level of oxygen (≤30%, intervention) instead of a high level of oxygen (≥90%, comparison) as the initial FiO2 for resuscitation result in adequate stabilization (outcome)? In order to answer this question, we sought recent randomized controlled trials (RCTs) examining the desired patient population, intervention, comparison, and outcome. We performed a PubMed search covering January 2008 until October 2013 using the following keywords: “oxygen” AND “resuscitation” AND “premature infant”. Limits were: human species, English language, and age from birth to 23 months. Publications prior to January 2008 were excluded because of redundancy, lack of applicability, or outdated information being likely in these publications. We examined personal files and reference listings of the full-text articles for any additional publications. Our search yielded a total of 141 titles. We reviewed 44 abstracts and retrieved 21 full-text articles or conference proceedings for detailed review. We found four relevant RCTs25 from the search and one additional RCT from our gray search6 (Table 1).

Table 1 Summary of findings in the five relevant randomized controlled trials
Notes: *The population in this study makes up a portion of the infants in the study by Vento et al.4 The reported findings from this study provide readers with different clinical data of importance; **study was powered based on this primary outcome. No other study was specifically powered to assess any of their clinical outcomes.
Abbreviations: LOG, low-oxygen group; HOG, high-oxygen group; NRP, Neonatal Resuscitation Program; NICU, neonatal intensive care unit; CPAP, continuous positive airway pressure; HR, heart rate; GA gestational age; PPV, positive pressure ventilation; SpO2, oxygen saturation; FiO2, fraction of inspired oxygen.

Discussion

Term neonates and premature neonates born at ≥32 weeks GA should be resuscitated with room air in nearly all circumstances,7 while there is no consensus on the ideal FiO2 for resuscitation of preterm infants <32 weeks.710 However, as recently as 2005, virtually all resuscitations for extremely low birth weight infants in the USA used 100% oxygen.9

The International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) has stated that the initial use of room air or 100% oxygen is more likely to result in hypoxemia or hyperoxia, respectively, than initiation of resuscitation with 30% or 90% oxygen for preterm infants <32 weeks GA. ILCOR also recommends that resuscitation be performed with judicious use of blended oxygen and room air, ideally guided by pulse oximetry. Notably, the ILCOR8 and American Heart Association recommendations11 did not include the published results of three RCTs found in Table 146 due to their more recent publication dates. A recent meta-analysis outlines the limitations of the current data around the topic,12 but does not provide clinicians with a practical conclusion on how to presently manage the use of oxygen in these resuscitations.

The science around this issue is evolving. A high FiO2 leads to production of free radicals with the potential to extensively damage human cells.13 A high FiO2 may prolong time to spontaneous crying and breathing, increase oxygen consumption, decrease minute ventilation, cause atelectasis, or decrease cerebral blood flow.13,14 At the same time, an overly low FiO2 may result in various types of organ dysfunction, including neonatal encephalopathy.13 The result of these data is physician uncertainty as to what is best for the premature infant they are resuscitating.

The determination of an appropriate oxygen saturation (SpO2) target below which oxygen therapy does more good than harm during resuscitation of premature infants remains elusive; the highest safe SpO2 remains unclear as well.15 Preterm infants take longer than term infants to reach an SpO2 of >85%.16,17 Dawson et al report on SpO2 levels in term and preterm infants (including 39 infants born at <32 weeks GA) that could guide post-delivery changes in the FiO2, but the infants studied were those that required no oxygen or assisted ventilation in the minutes after birth;18 therefore, the reported SpO2 levels may not be best for preterm infants of <32 weeks GA who actually require resuscitation. That said, these levels are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guideline for use when resuscitating even preterm babies,7 and the European Resuscitation Council does not provide clearly recommended saturation targets for the preterm infant <32 weeks GA.19,20 Based on a review of several publications, Finer and Rich14 recommend: “initial SpO2 following delivery can be assumed to be around 50% and increases by 5 to 6% per min for the very preterm infant. This will result in an SpO2 of 65 to 70% at 3 min, 75 to 80% at 5 min and 85 to 90% by 7 to 8 min of age.” All RCTs we reviewed (Table 1) considered an SpO2 of ≥85% at 10 minutes acceptable, although one targeted an SpO2 of ≥85% at 5 minutes in their low-oxygen group while accepting notably higher SpO2 readings of >95% in the first 5 minutes of life in their high-oxygen group,3 and one targeted an SpO2 of 85%–92% as soon as SpO2 readings were available,5 which is usually by 1–2 minutes of life. Although the final determination of the ideal SpO2 targeting remains elusive, an SpO2 of 85%–94% at 10 minutes seems to be considered acceptable by most experts.

Table 1 details the few small RCTs that compare commencing with a low FiO2 (21%–30%) versus high FiO2 (90%–100%) during resuscitation of preterm infants (particularly those ≤31 weeks GA). One RCT likely had a single 32-week GA infant based on their inclusion of preterm neonates ≤32 weeks and their final population having a mean GA of 29 (95% confidence interval 28–30);5 another included infants at 32–34 weeks GA.6 Various titration methods were used (see Table 1 for details); of note, sudden FiO2 alterations (over 10% every 30 seconds) may result in constriction of the pulmonary vasculature.4 In the two RCTs2,4 comparing 30% versus 90% as the starting FiO2 in infants ≤28 weeks GA, saturations were similar in both groups at all times, but the high-oxygen group had greater exposure to oxygen,2 more signs of oxidative stress, more ventilation days, and prolonged oxygen supplementation,4 with no noted benefits from the higher oxygen exposure. Two of the three RCTs comparing room air with 100% oxygen3,5 had a higher treatment failure rate (as defined by the studies and noted in Table 1) in their room air groups (only statistically significant in one3), suggesting that room air is likely not the best initial FiO2 choice in this population. The other recent RCT comparing room air with 100% oxygen6 demonstrated that all babies initially resuscitated with room air required an increase in FiO2 to reach the targeted preductal saturations, again suggesting room air is perhaps not the best initial FiO2 choice. In this study, there was no difference in treatment failure (as defined by the study and noted in Table 1) between the groups, but this may have been due to the inclusion of more mature infants at 32–34 weeks GA; importantly, the study was underpowered, particularly for those infants <29 weeks GA, for any clinical outcomes given that the primary outcome was a laboratory-based measurement of oxidative stress. Several upcoming RCTs are using room air as one of their comparison groups and may help determine if, indeed, it should not be used as the initial gas for resuscitation.15 Another upcoming RCT will compare 30% and 65% as the initial gas for resuscitation.21

We have reviewed the most recent and relevant evidence for clinical oxygen use in the resuscitation of infants born at <32 weeks GA. The heterogeneous outcomes assessed in each respective study hamper any meta-analysis of the RCTs.12 Based on our review of these few small RCTs, the best approach at the present time seems to be initiating resuscitation with an initial FiO2 of 30% and titrating oxygen up or down based on the preductal pulse oximetry. The oxygen should also be titrated if the HR remains <100 despite 30 seconds of effective positive-pressure ventilation. The FiO2 should be titrated to match the current recommended “minute by minute” preductal SpO2 targets from the American Heart Association7,11 or the original evidence-based data.15,18 Additionally, should cardiac output fail to improve (ie, heart rate <60 beats per minute) despite adequate ventilation and chest compressions become necessary, the FiO2 should immediately be increased to 100% based on current recommendations.7

In closing, room air may be acceptable as the initial resuscitation gas, but present data suggest it inadequately stabilizes SpO2 levels or the heart rate of infants <32 weeks GA. Given the equivalent stabilization of these infants on 30% or 90% FiO2 as the initial resuscitation gas, an FiO2 of 30% appears to be the better choice given the risks of high oxygen exposure. Determination of the ideal initial resuscitation gas and SpO2 targets requires further high quality research assessing both short-term and long-term outcomes.

Disclosure

The authors declare no conflict of interest in this work.


References

1.

Abdel-Hady H, Nasef N. Respiratory management of the preterm newborn in the delivery room. Research and Reports in Neonatology. 2012;2:39–53.

2.

Escrig R, Arruza L, Izquierdo I, et al. Achievement of targeted saturation values in extremely low gestational age neonates resuscitated with low or high oxygen concentrations: a prospective, randomized trial. Pediatrics. 2008;121(5):875–881.

3.

Wang CL, Anderson C, Leone TA, Rich W, Govindaswami B, Finer NN. Resuscitation of preterm neonates by using room air or 100% oxygen. Pediatrics. 2008;121(6):1083–1089.

4.

Vento M, Moro M, Escrig R, et al. Preterm resuscitation with low oxygen causes less oxidative stress, inflammation, and chronic lung disease. Pediatrics. 2009;124(3):e439–e449.

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Rabi Y, Singhal N, Nettel-Aguirre A. Room-air versus oxygen administration for resuscitation of preterm infants: the ROAR study. Pediatrics. 2011;128(2):e374–e381.

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Kapadia VS, Chalak LF, Sparks JE, Allen JR, Savani RC, Wyckoff MH. Resuscitation of preterm neonates with limited versus high oxygen strategy. Pediatrics. 2013;132(6):e1488–e1496.

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American Academy of Pediatrics and American Heart Association. Textbook of Neonatal Resuscitation. 6th ed. Elk Grove Village, IL, USA: American Academy of Pediatrics and American Heart Association; 2011.

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Perlman JM, Wyllie J, Kattwinkel J, et al. Part 11: Neonatal resuscitation: 2010 International Consensus on Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care Science With Treatment Recommendations. Circulation. 2010;122(16 Suppl 2):S516–S538.

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Finer N, Saugstad O, Vento M, et al. Use of oxygen for resuscitation of the extremely low birth weight infant. Pediatrics. 2010;125(2):389–391.

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Vento M. Tailoring oxygen needs of extremely low birth weight infants in the delivery room. Neonatology. 2011;99(4):342–348.

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Kattwinkel J, Perlman JM, Aziz K, et al. Neonatal resuscitation: 2010 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care. Pediatrics. 2010; 126(5):e1400–e1413.

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Brown JV, Moe-Byrne T, Harden M, McGuire W. Lower versus higher oxygen concentration for delivery room stabilisation of preterm neonates: systematic review. PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e52033.

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Wiswell TE. Resuscitation in the delivery room: lung protection from the first breath. Respir Care. 2011;56(9):1360–1367.

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Finer N, Rich W. Neonatal resuscitation for the preterm infant: evidence versus practice. J Perinatol. 2010;30 Suppl:S57–S66.

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Dawson JA, Vento M, Finer NN, et al. Managing oxygen therapy during delivery room stabilization of preterm infants. J Pediatr. 2012;160(1):158–161.

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Vento M, Saugstad OD. Oxygen supplementation in the delivery room: updated information. J Pediatr. 2011;158(Suppl 2):e5–e7.

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Kamlin CO, O’Donnell CP, Davis PG, Morley CJ. Oxygen saturation in healthy infants immediately after birth. J Pediatr. 2006;148(5):585–589.

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Dawson JA, Kamlin CO, Vento M, et al. Defining the reference range for oxygen saturation for infants after birth. Pediatrics. 2010;125(6):e1340–e1347.

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Richmond S, Wyllie J. European Resuscitation Council Guidelines for Resuscitation 2010 Section 7. Resuscitation of babies at birth. Resuscitation. 2010;81(10):1389–1399.

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Saugstad OD. New guidelines for newborn resuscitation – a critical evaluation. Acta Paediatr. 2011;100(8):1058–1062.

21.

Rook D, Schierbeek H, van der Eijk AC, et al. Resuscitation of very preterm infants with 30% vs 65% oxygen at birth: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials. 2012;13:65.


Authors’ reply

Hesham Abdel-Hady, Nehad Nasef

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Mansoura University Children’s Hospital, Mansoura, Egypt

Correspondence: Hesham Abdel-Hady, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Mansoura University Children’s Hospital, Gomhoria, Street, Mansoura 35516, Egypt, Tel +200 0527 8051, Fax +205 0223 4092, Email hehady@yahoo.com


Dear editor

We compliment Moore and Navabi for their updated report on evidence-based choice of the initial fraction of inspired oxygen (FiO2) for resuscitation of premature infants <32 weeks gestation. These infants often need respiratory support and oxygen supplementation immediately after birth, and adequate oxygenation is essential because both hypoxia and hyperoxia can have detrimental effects.1,2

Moore and Navabi correctly point out that studies in preterm infants failed to define the optimal initial FiO2 during resuscitation. A recent meta-analysis3 of six randomized controlled trials (RCTs)49 concluded that there is not sufficient evidence to affirm that the use of lower or higher initial FiO2 in the delivery room for preterm babies confers important benefits or harm. Moreover, none of these trials49 was actually powered to evaluate important long-term outcomes such as survival without significant neurodevelopmental disability. Until further evidence becomes available, we still believe that the best approach is to initiate a resuscitation with an FiO2 of 30%, thereafter, FiO2 should be titrated according to the pulse oximetry oxygen saturation (SpO2) readings with changes in 10% intervals performed every 30 seconds to allow babies cardio-respiratory response.

Oxygen blenders and pulse oxygen saturation monitors should be used to achieve the balance of administering the FiO2 based on the infant’s needs. Using pulse oximetry to guide oxygen therapy in the delivery room is not evidence-based practice. However, the American Heart Association (AHA)10 and the European Resuscitation Council (ERC)11 guidelines advise preductal SpO2 targets for the first 10 minutes after birth, without specifying the gestational age. These targets are based on observational studies of healthy infants not requiring any intervention during their resuscitation.12 The AHA guidelines advise a narrow SpO2 target range close to the median values for infants who do not require resuscitation (SpO2 target ranges at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 10 minutes after birth are 60%–65%, 65%–70%, 70%–75%, 75%–80%, 80%–85%, and 85%–95%, respectively), while the ERC guidelines prescribe single value SpO2 targets (SpO2 of 60%, 70%, 80%, 85%, and 90% at 2, 3, 4, 5, and 10 minutes after birth, respectively) these values are closer to the 25th percentile. Recently a group of experts have suggested that the use of the 10th and 50th percentile SpO2 curves of Dawson’s nomograms,12 as the SpO2 target range may be more appropriate.13 Moreover, Dawson’s nomograms classified by gestational age may be very useful for the resuscitation team as they allow more accurate target SpO2 to be established according to gestational age.12 It is worth noting that the available SpO2 targets are based on observational studies of healthy infants not requiring any intervention during their resuscitation, in a recent study it has been shown that preterm babies and especially females receiving positive pressure and air attain higher saturations earlier than those spontaneously breathing.14 Meanwhile, resuscitation team must control the SpO2 adequately, and follow the targets with as little deviation as possible. Recently it was demonstrated that the resuscitation team could effectively maintain SpO2 values within a specific target range during transition using Transitional Oxygen Targeting System (TOTS) plots which record real-time SpO2 values in relation to 10th and 50th percentile SpO2 curves.15

Further appropriately-sized RCTs are needed to define the best initial FiO2 and the appropriate SpO2 range in the delivery room. These trials should measure not only short term but also long-term outcomes. The Targeted Oxygenation in the Resuscitation of Premature Infants and Their Developmental Outcome trial (TO2RPIDO)16 is recruiting infants at ≤31 weeks’ gestation to compare 100% oxygen and air as the initial gas for resuscitation, using SpO2 targeting. For the air group, FiO2 is increased if SpO2 is <65% by 5 minutes, <80% at 5–10 minutes, and <85% thereafter. In the 100% oxygen group, FiO2 is decreased when SpO2 >92%. The Study of Room Air Versus 60% Oxygen for Resuscitation of Premature Infants (PRESOX),17 will use targeted oxygen saturation levels over the first 15 to 20 minutes of life to compare a low (21%) and a higher initial oxygen (60%) level for the resuscitation of preterm infants <29 weeks gestation, and will be large enough to evaluate short term outcomes of survival without oxygen at 36 weeks and survival without retinopathy of prematurity, and the long term outcome of survival without significant neurodevelopmental impairment at 2 years of age.

To summarize, resuscitation in room-air or 100% oxygen is not recommended for preterm neonates <32 weeks gestation. The FiO2 of 30% apparently enhances successful transition, lowers the oxygen exposure, and diminishes the risk of oxidative damage. The FiO2 should be titrated according to SpO2 values. Further RCTs are needed to define the best initial FiO2 and the appropriate SpO2 range in the delivery room for preterm infants. These trials should measure not only short term but also long-term outcomes.

Disclosure

The authors report no conflicts of interest in this communication.


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Brown JV, Moe-Byrne T, Harden M, McGuire W. Lower versus higher oxygen concentration for delivery room stabilization of preterm neonates: systematic review. PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e52033.

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Harling AE, Beresford MW, Vince GS, Bates M, Yoxall CW. Does the use of 50% oxygen at birth in preterm infants reduce lung injury? Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed. 2005;90(5):F401–F405.

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Saugstad OD, Rootwelt T, Aalen O. Resuscitation of asphyxiated newborn infants with room air or oxygen: an international controlled trial: the Resair 2 study. Pediatrics. 1998;102(1):e1.

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Lundstrom KE, Pryds O, Greisen G. Oxygen at birth and prolonged cerebral vasoconstriction in preterm infants. Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed. 1995;73(2):F81–F86.

7.

Vento M, Moro M, Escrig R, et al. Preterm resuscitation with low oxygen causes less oxidative stress, inflammation, and chronic lung disease. Pediatrics. 2009;124(3):e439–e449.

8.

Wang CL, Anderson C, Leone TA, Rich W, Govindaswami B, Finer NN. Resuscitation of preterm neonates by using room air or 100% oxygen. Pediatrics. 2008;121(6):1083–1089.

9.

Rabi Y, Singhal N, Nettel-Aguirre A. Room-air versus oxygen administration for resuscitation of preterm infants: the ROAR study. Pediatrics. 2011;128(2):e374–e381.

10.

Kattwinkel J, Perlman JM, Aziz K, et al. Neonatal resuscitation: 2010 American Heart Association guidelines for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and emergency cardiovascular care. Pediatrics. 2010;126(5):e1400–e1413.

11.

Richmond S, Wyllie J. European Resuscitation Council guidelines for resuscitation 2010 section 7. Resuscitation of babies at birth. Resuscitation. 2010;81(10):1389–1399.

12.

Dawson JA, Kamlin CO, Vento M, et al. Defining the reference range for oxygen saturation for infants after birth. Pediatrics. 2010;125(6):e1340–e1347.

13.

Dawson JA, Vento M, Finer NN, et al. Managing oxygen therapy during delivery room stabilization of preterm infants. J Pediatr. 2012; 160(1):159–161.

14.

Vento M, Cubells E, Escobar JJ, et al. Oxygen saturation after birth in preterm infants treated with continuous positive airway pressure and air: assessment of gender differences and comparison with a published nomogram. Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed. 2013;98(3):F228–F232.

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Gandhi B, Rich W, Finer N. Achieving targeted pulse oximetry values in preterm infants in the delivery room. J Pediatr. 2013;163(2):412–415.

16.

See KC, Oei J, Clark R, Lui K, for the TO2RPIDO Multinational Study Group. Feasibility of a randomized trial of targeted oxygen for the resuscitation of premature infants and their developmental outcome (TO2RPIDO). Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health. 2009;45:A15, Abstract# A017.

17.

Resuscitation of Premature Infants (PRESOX). Available from: http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01773746. Accessed December 26, 2013.

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