Background: ST-segment changes to the fetal electrocardiogram (ECG) may indicate fetal acidosis. No large-scale characterization of ECG morphology immediately after birth has been performed, but ECG is used for heart rate (HR) assessment. We aimed to investigate ECG morphology immediately after birth in asphyxiated infants, using one-lead dry-electrode ECG developed for HR measurement. Methods: Observational study in Tanzania, between 2013–2018. Near-term and term infants that received bag-mask ventilation (BMV), and healthy controls, were monitored with one-lead dry-electrode ECG with a non-diagnostic bandwidth. ECGs were classified as normal, with ST-elevations or other ST-segment abnormalities including a biphasic ST-segment. We analyzed ECG morphology in relation to perinatal variables or short-term outcomes. Results: A total of 494 resuscitated and 25 healthy infants were included. ST-elevations were commonly seen both in healthy infants (7/25; 28%) and resuscitated (320/494; 65%) infants. The apparent ST-elevations were not associated with perinatal variables or short-term outcomes. Among the 32 (6.4%) resuscitated infants with “other ST-segment abnormalities”, duration of BMV was longer, 1-min Apgar score lower and normal outcomes less frequent than in the resuscitated infants with normal ECG or ST-elevations. Conclusions: ST-segment elevation was commonly seen and not associated with negative outcomes when using one-lead dry-electrode ECG. Other ST-segment abnormalities were associated with prolonged BMV and worse outcome. ECG with appropriate bandwidth and automated analysis may potentially in the future aid in the identification of severely asphyxiated infants.
- Bag-mask ventilation
- Perinatal asphyxia