Combined (stressed and non-stressed) antenatal fetal heart rate monitoring
Acceleration patterns of the fetal heart rate, or a normal heart rate during spontaneous contractions, were used as a short weekly screening test to evaluate fetal well-being in 1102 high-risk pregnancies. When accelerations or contractions were absent during the initial screening, oxytocin was administered to stimulate uterine contractions. The mean duration of the antenatal monitoring was 18.5 min when the initial antenatal monitoring was normal, but 38.8 min when the initial results were uncertain. Oxytocin was administered to 38% of patients. This reduced the number of occasions where the diagnosis was uncertain from 46.6% to 12%. Patients with uncertain antenatal fetal monitoring had significantly more late decelerations during labor as well as newborns with low Apgar scores when compared to those with normal antenatal monitoring. Patients with abnormal antenatal monitoring (positive stress test) had significantly more low 5-min Apgar scores, late decelerations during labor and growth-retarded infants than the patients with normal antenatal fetal monitoring. Only 1 intrauterine death occurred within 7 days of a normal antenatal heart rate recording. No preventable fetal deaths occurred when antenatal monitoring demonstrated an acceleration pattern of the fetal heart rate.