Research Article| Volume 159, ISSUE 1, P57-61, November 2011

Cardiotocography as a predictor of fetal outcome in women presenting with reduced fetal movement



      To examine the obstetric and perinatal outcomes of women presenting with reduced fetal movement (RFM) during the third trimester, specifically in relation to the diagnostic capacity of non-stress cardiotocography (CTG) used as the primary investigation in this clinical scenario.

      Study design

      This was a retrospective population-based cohort study of pregnancy outcomes of all women ≥28 weeks’ gestation with singleton pregnancies presenting during one calendar year with maternal perception of RFM, all of whom underwent CTG at presentation. Main outcome measures included: obstetric intervention (induction of labour, spontaneous vaginal delivery, operative vaginal delivery, emergency caesarean section), and perinatal outcome (subsequent perinatal death, low Apgar scores (<75), neonatal resuscitation and NICU admission).


      In all, 524 women presented with RFM and a live fetus, representing 7% of the antenatal obstetric population; 284 women (54%) were nulliparous. The reassuring CTG group comprised 482 (92%) women in whom initial CTG was reassuring and 15 (3%) where a repeat tracing within 1 h was reassuring. The non-reassuring/abnormal CTG group (n = 27, 5%) either underwent emergency delivery or comprehensive serial fetal assessment; this group had significantly higher rates of emergency caesarean delivery, neonatal resuscitation and NICU admission; the incidence of small-for-gestational-age infants did not differ significantly. No perinatal death occurred in either group following CTG.


      Normal non-stress CTG is a reliable screening indicator of fetal wellbeing in women presenting with perception of RFM in the third trimester; abnormal pregnancy outcomes were more common when initial CTG was abnormal or persistently non-reassuring.


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