n South African Journal of Child Health - Outcomes of neonates with perinatal asphyxia at a tertiary academic hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa : research

Volume 7, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1994-3032
  • E-ISSN: 1999-7671



Perinatal asphyxia is a significant cause of death and disability.

To determine the outcomes (survival to discharge and morbidity after discharge) of neonates with perinatal asphyxia at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital (CMJAH).
This was a descriptive retrospective study. We reviewed information obtained from the computerised neonatal database on neonates born at CMJAH or admitted there within 24 hours of birth between 1 January 2006 and 31 December 2011, with a birth weight of >1 800 g and a 5-minute Apgar score <6.
Four hundred and fifty infants were included in the study; 185 (41.1%) were females, the mean birth weight (± standard deviation) was 3 034.8±484.9 g, and the mean gestational age was 39.1±2.2 weeks. Most of the infants were born at CMJAH (391/450, 86.9%) and by normal vaginal delivery (270/450, 60.0%). The overall survival rate was 86.7% (390/450). Forty-two infants were admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). The ICU survival rate was 88.1% (37/42). Significant predictors of survival were place of birth (=0.006), mode of delivery (=0.007) and bag-mask ventilation at birth (=0.040). Duration of hospital stay (=0.000) was significantly longer in survivors than in non-survivors (6.5±6.6 days v. 2.8±9.8 days). The remaining factors, namely gender, antenatal care, chest compressions, diagnosis of meconium aspiration syndrome or persistant pulmonary hypertension, did not differ significantly between the two groups. The rate of perinatal asphyxia (5-minute Apgar score <6) was 4.7/1 000 live births, and there was evidence of hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE) in 3.6/1 000 live births. Of the 390 babies discharged from CMJAH, 113 (29.0%) had follow-up records to a mean corrected age of 5.9±5.0 months. The majority (90/113, 79.6%) had normal development.
() The high overall survival and survival after ICU admission provides a benchmark for further care; () obtaining adequate data for long-term follow-up was not possible with the existing resources - surrogate early markers of outcome and/or more resources to ensure accurate follow-up are needed; and () the high incidence of HIE suggests that a therapeutic hypothermia service, including a long-term follow-up component, would be beneficial.

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