No Benefit for Fetal ECG Monitoring During Childbirth
Written by Editor   
Monday, August 17, 2015 12:00 AM

Fetal electrocardiographic (ECG) monitoring used in conjunction with conventional fetal heart rate monitoring did not reduce complications during childbirth, according to a large U.S. clinical trial funded by the National Institutes of Health. The additional monitoring did not reduce the risk for a composite of outcomes including fetal and neonatal death, and it did not significantly impact the rates of cesarean or operative delivery, a team of investigators from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, reported.  

"We chose the most severe outcomes to evaluate in this study. We wanted to see if this ECG monitor would be useful in preventing these problems, but it wasn’t. Even though we have this technology, and even though we tend to think of more technology as better, it didn't add anything to what we pick up by usual heart rate monitoring."

"Obstetricians have been looking for a way to improve safety, to reduce neonatal complications and improve outcomes, but unfortunately this isn't it. It would have been great if it worked." 

The study tested a device called the STAN S31, manufactured by Neoventa Medical and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2005.

The study included more than 11,000 pregnant women.  "In conclusion, this large and closely monitored randomized, controlled trial showed no significant benefit of the adjunctive use of ST-segment analysis in reducing a composite of neonatal outcomes or in reducing cesarean or operative vaginal deliveries in a U.S. population undergoing conventional intrapartum continuous electronic fetal heart-rate monitoring," the investigators said.