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


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.

  • infant
  • newborn
  • electrocardiogram
  • clinical assessment of heart rate
  • pulse oximetry

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