Heart rate at birth measured by pulse oximetry versus electrocardiography

Concurrent readings of heart rate immediately after birth as detected by pulse oximetry and EKG electrodes were compared in 53 neonates (both term and preterm infants were included). The leads or sensor were applied as soon as possible after birth and compared every 30 seconds up to 10 minutes after birth. The heart rate displayed by the pulse oximeter was significantly lower that the simultaneous heart rate detected by EKG electrodes. A heart rate of less than 100 beats per minute was observed twice as often with pulse oximetry measurements than with EKG measurements at 60, 90 and 120 seconds after birth.

Pulse oximetry measures a lower heart rate at birth compared with electrocardiography. van Vonderen et al, 2014.