In resource-poor settings, the standard of care to inform labour management is the partograph plus Pinard stethoscope for intermittent fetal heart rate (FHR) monitoring. We compared FHR monitoring in labour using a novel, robust wind-up handheld Doppler with the Pinard as a primary screening tool for abnormal FHR on perinatal outcomes.
Prospective equally randomised clinical trial.
The labour and delivery unit of a teaching hospital in Kampala, Uganda. Participants Of the 2042 eligible antenatal women, 1971 women in active term labour, following uncomplicated pregnancies, were randomised to either the standard of care or not.
Intermittent FHR monitoring using Doppler.
Primary outcome measures
Incidence of FHR abnormality detection, intrapartum stillbirth and neonatal mortality prior to discharge.
Age, parity, gestational age, mode of delivery and newborn weight were similar between study groups. In the Doppler group, there was a significantly higher rate of FHR abnormalities detected (incidence rate ratio (IRR)=1.61, 95% CI 1.13 to 2.30). However, in this group, there were also higher though not statistically significant rates of intrapartum stillbirths (IRR=3.94, 0.44 to 35.24) and neonatal deaths (IRR=1.38, 0.44 to 4.34).
Routine monitoring with a handheld Doppler increased the identification of FHR abnormalities in labour; however, our trial did not find evidence that this leads to a decrease in the incidence of intrapartum stillbirth or neonatal death.
Trial registration number
Clinical Trails.gov (1000031587).