Comparison of infant heart rate assessment by auscultation, ECG and oximetry in the delivery room

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Clinical assessment of an infant’s heart rate (HR) in the delivery room (DR) has been reported to be inaccurate. We compared auscultation of the HR using a stethoscope with electrocardiography (ECG) and pulse oximetry (PO) for determining the HR in 92 low-risk newborn infants in the DR. Caregivers auscultated the HR while masked to the HR on the monitor. Auscultation underestimated ECG HR (mean difference (95% CI) by −9 (−15 to –2) beats per minute (bpm)) and PO HR (mean difference (95% CI) by −5 (−12 to 2) bpm). The median (IQR) time to HR by auscultation was 14 (10–18) s. As HR was determined quickly and with reasonable accuracy by auscultation in low-risk newborns, study in high-risk infants is warranted.

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