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Clinical assessment of infant colour at delivery
  1. Colm P F O’Donnell1,
  2. C Omar F Kamlin1,
  3. Peter G Davis1,
  4. John B Carlin2,
  5. Colin J Morley1
  1. 1
    Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2
    Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Dr Colm O’Donnell, National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, Dublin 2, Ireland; codonnell{at}


Objective: Use of video recordings of newborn infants to determine: (1) if clinicians agreed whether infants were pink; and (2) the pulse oximeter oxygen saturation (Spo2) at which infants first looked pink.

Methods: Selected clips from video recordings of infants taken immediately after delivery were shown to medical and nursing staff. The infants received varying degrees of resuscitation (including none) and were monitored with pulse oximetry. The oximeter readings were obscured to observers but known to the investigators. A timer was visible and the sound was inaudible. The observers were asked to indicate whether each infant was pink at the beginning, became pink during the clip, or was never pink. If adjudged to turn pink during the clip, observers recorded the time this occurred and the corresponding Spo2 was determined.

Results: 27 clinicians assessed videos of 20 infants (mean (SD) gestation 31(4) weeks). One infant (5%) was perceived to be pink by all observers. The number of clinicians who thought each of the remaining 19 infants were never pink varied from 1 (4%) to 22 (81%). Observers determined the 10 infants with a maximum Spo2 ⩾95% never pink on 17% (46/270) of occasions. The Spo2 at which individual infants were perceived to turn pink varied from 10% to 100%.

Conclusion: Among clinicians observing the same videos there was disagreement about whether newborn infants looked pink with wide variation in the Spo2 when they were considered to become pink.

  • infant
  • newborn
  • resuscitation
  • colour
  • pulse oximetry

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  • Drs O’Donnell and Kamlin were in receipt of Royal Women’s Hospital Postgraduate Degree Scholarships. Associate Professor Davis is in receipt of a National Health and Medical Research Council (Australia) Practitioner Fellowship.

  • Competing interests: None.

  • Abbreviations:
    arterial oxygen saturation
    pulse oximeter oxygen saturation

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