Routine umbilical cord blood gas determinations?

James A. Thorp, Jone E. Sampson, Valerie M. Parisi, Robert K. Creasy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


Between 1986 and 1988, 1924 term nulliparous patients with spontaneous onset of labor were studied to assess the importance of obtaining umbilical cord blood gas levels on all deliveries. The umbilical cord arterial and venous pH values (expressed as mean ± 2 SD) were 7.24 ± 0.14 (n = 1694) and 7.32 ± 0.12 (n = 1820), respectively. The incidence of newborn depression (1- or 5-minute Apgar score <7) was 14.1%; of these depressed newborns, the incidence of normal umbilical cord arterial pH values (≥ -2 SD) was 77.8%. Of the vigorous newborns, there was a 2.1% incidence of umbilical cord arterial blood acidemia. Umbilical cord arterial blood acidemia in vigorous newborns was not highly predictive of specific morbidity in the immediate newborn period. Regression analysis demonstrated the umbilical cord arterial pH to correlate best with the Apgar scores when compared with all other arterial or venous blood gas meaurements. We reached the following conclusions: (1) that obtaining cord arterial pH values in vigorous newborns should be considered since the values will provide objective documentation or normal fetal acid base balance in 98% of infants. (2) Only a cord arterial pH determination is recommended since it reflects fetal or newborn status more accurately than all other measurements. Additional measurements increase the likelihood of abnormal results and do not contribute to neonatal management. (3) An umbilical cord blood pH value is extremely useful in ruling out the diagnosis of birth asphyxia in the depressed newborn.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)600-605
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • Umbilical cord blood pH
  • umbilical cord blood gas
  • vigorous newborn

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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