Objective.

The limited literature available to date suggests that the use of delivery room cardiopulmonary resuscitation (DR-CPR) is associated with very poor outcomes, especially for extremely low birth weight infants. We reviewed the cumulative experience of the Vermont Oxford Network to determine the actual utilization of DR-CPR and the neonatal outcomes of such infants.

Methods.

A retrospective review of information available in the Vermont Oxford Network Database for the years 1994 to 1996. The data set was collected from 196 neonatal units who participate in the Network (data for infants 401 to 500 g were from 1996 only). Infants were eligible for study if they received DR-CPR defined as the administration of chest compressions and/or epinephrine in the delivery room as noted on the Vermont Oxford Network Database record.

Results.

Information regarding survival was available for 27 707 newborns with birth weights from 501 to 1500 g, and 497 infants with birth weights from 401 to 500 g. There were 24 001 (86.6%) survivors. Overall DR-CPR was given to 9.3% of infants from 401 to 500 g and 6% of infants from 501 to 1500 g, 82.1% receiving chest compressions, and 66.7% receiving epinephrine. Survival of infants receiving DR-CPR was 23.9% for infants of 401 to 500 g, and 63.3% for infants of 501 to 1500 g, compared with 16.7% and 87.9% for infants in these weight groups not receiving DR-CPR. Survival was greater for infants of 501 g or greater without DR-CPR compared with those who received this intervention within each 250-g birth weight subgroup. For infants of <1000 g, survival was 53.8% with DR-CPR compared with 74.9% without. Head ultrasounds were available for 95.5% of all surviving infants and 96.7% of infants who received DR-CPR. Overall, any grade of intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) occurred more frequently in infants who received DR-CPR (38%) than in those who did not (21%). Grade 3 or 4 (severe) IVH was seen in 15.3% of infants who received DR-CPR compared with 4.9% of the infants who did not. Overall, survival without severe IVH occurred in 52.2% of DR-CPR infants compared with 81.3% of infants who did not require this intervention.

Conclusion.

The majority of very low birth weight and extremely low birth weight infants who receive DR-CPR survive, and at least half of such infants who survive do not have evidence of severe IVH. Further follow-up studies are required to determine the long-term neurodevelopmental outcome of such infants. The current study does not support the previously noted poor outcome in extremely low birth weight infants who receive DR-CPR.

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