The infant mortality rate in the United States is higher than most European countries, even with the medical advances that happen every day. Experts believe this is closely linked to the growing rate of preterm births, and they are committed to finding ways to make labor and delivery safer. To this end, Northwestern Medicine® researchers are examining a device that may support improved newborn health at delivery through closer monitoring of infant oxygen use during labor.
STAN™ is a fetal heart-rate monitor that measures and tracks the electrical activity of an infant’s heart using an internal electrode, along with uterine contractions and how well the infant uses oxygen during labor. It interprets the data and signals clinicians when a significant change in oxygen levels or heart rate occurs. Although the monitor is approved by the Food and Drug Administration and is routinely used in Europe, it has not been widely used in the United States. Current monitors measure only heart rate and rely on the experience and judgment of the clinical team to interpret changes in data.
The trial involves 14 centers in the United States, including Northwestern, and researchers hope to enroll 11,000 women nationwide over the next 3 years. Participants will be randomized to receive the existing standard fetal monitoring, or the new system along with the existing system.
"Poor birth outcomes are often directly related to loss of oxygen during labor and delivery," explained Alan Peaceman, MD, chief of maternal fetal medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine who is the lead investigator on the study. "Through more advanced monitoring, we hope to identify red flags sooner and prevent dips in oxygen that may lead to long-term health issues for the baby."
Source: Northwestern Memorial Hospital