Objective To evaluate the efficacy and safety of gastric lavage (GL) in neonates born through meconium-stained liquor (MSL).
Design A systematic review of randomised controlled trials by searching databases MEDLINE (from 1966), EMBASE (from1980), CINAHL, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Google Scholar and proceedings of Pediatric Academic Society meetings (2002–2014).
Setting Delivery room/Neonatal ward.
Patients Neonates with gestation >34 weeks and birth weight ≥1800 g born through MSL.
Interventions Prophylactic GL versus no intervention before first feed.
Main outcome measure Feeding intolerance, defined as inability to initiate/upgrade feeds due to problems such as retching, vomiting, regurgitation and gastric residuals.
Results A total of six studies (GL: 918, no GL: 966) were included in the review. Meta-analysis using fixed-effects model showed decreased incidence of feed intolerance following GL ((81/918 (8.8%) vs 114/966 (11.8%); risk ratio (RR): 0.71 (95% CI 0.55 to 0.93)). However, the results were not significant when random-effects model was used (RR: 0.78 (95% CI 0.55 to 1.09)). No significant adverse effects of GL were reported.
Conclusions Routine GL immediately after birth may improve feed tolerance in neonates born through MSL. However, the evidence is limited, with probable small-study bias and high risk of bias in a number of the included studies. Well-designed studies with adequate sample size are essential to confirm these findings.
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