Background: Oxygen saturation (Spo2) monitors are commonly used to determine the need for supplemental oxygen. We aimed to describe the range of arterial oxygen tensions (Pao2) observed in preterm infants at saturation levels targeted in current trials.
Methods: In a cohort of 98 consecutive infants born at <29 weeks’ gestation, the Pao2 from each arterial blood gas result during the first week of life (n = 2076) was matched to the Spo2 at time of sampling. The mean (95% CI) Pao2 was calculated for each saturation.
Results: The 95% CI of Pao2 for the Spo2 range 85–95% was 3.8 to 8.9 kPa. The mean (95% CI) Pao2 at a saturation of 85% was 5.3 (3.8 to 6.8) kPa and at a saturation of 95% it was 7.2 (5.5 to 8.9) kPa.
Conclusion: Saturations within the range 85–95% largely exclude hyperoxia in preterm infants <29 weeks’ gestation but permit Pao2 values far lower than those recommended in traditional guidelines.
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Competing interests: None.