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1.  Changes in cerebral oxygenation during early postnatal adaptation in newborns delivered by vacuum extraction measured by near-infrared spectroscopy 
BMC Pediatrics  2014;14:21.
Newborns delivered by vacuum extraction quite often show clinical signs of a hemodynamic compromise, which is difficult to assess in terms of severity. The conventional means to measure the hemodynamic status are not sensitive enough to appreciate the severity of general, and more specifically of cerebral circulatory imbalance. The aim was to study cerebral tissue oxygenation during postnatal adaptation in these infants using near-infrared spectroscopy.
The tissue hemoglobin index (THI), tissue oxygenation index (TOI), arterial oxygen saturation (pre-ductal SaO2) and heart rate (HR) were recorded immediately after birth, and again after 12–24 hours of life in 15 newborns delivered by vacuum extraction due to fetal distress. A comparison with 19 healthy newborns delivered by elective cesarean section was performed.
Newborns delivered by vacuum extraction had significantly higher THI 10 to 15 minutes after birth. TOI and HR were significantly higher in the first 5 min and SaO2 in the first 10 minutes but then did not differ from those after cesarean section.
Infants delivered by vacuum extraction following fetal distress show transient deviations in cerebral oxygenation and perfusion after birth which were not detectable after 24 hours.
PMCID: PMC3913969  PMID: 24467703
Cerebral oxygenation; Near-infrared spectroscopy; Newborn; Vacuum delivery
2.  Minimally invasive, imaging guided virtual autopsy compared to conventional autopsy in foetal, newborn and infant cases: study protocol for the paediatric virtual autopsy trial 
BMC Pediatrics  2014;14:15.
In light of declining autopsy rates around the world, post-mortem MR imaging is a promising alternative to conventional autopsy in the investigation of infant death. A major drawback of this non-invasive autopsy approach is the fact that histopathological and microbiological examination of the tissue is not possible. The objective of this prospective study is to compare the performance of minimally invasive, virtual autopsy, including CT-guided biopsy, with conventional autopsy procedures in a paediatric population.
Foetuses, newborns and infants that are referred for autopsy at three different institutions associated with the University of Zurich will be eligible for recruitment. All bodies will be examined with a commercial CT and a 3 Tesla MRI scanner, masked to the results of conventional autopsy. After cross-sectional imaging, CT-guided tissue sampling will be performed by a multifunctional robotic system (Virtobot) allowing for automated post-mortem biopsies. Virtual autopsy results will be classified with regards to the likely final diagnosis and major pathological findings and compared to the results of conventional autopsy, which remains the diagnostic gold standard.
There is an urgent need for the development of alternative post-mortem examination methods, not only as a counselling tool for families and as a quality control measure for clinical diagnosis and treatment but also as an instrument to advance medical knowledge and clinical practice. This interdisciplinary study will determine whether virtual autopsy will narrow the gap in information between non-invasive and traditional autopsy procedures.
Trial Registration NCT01888380
PMCID: PMC3897955  PMID: 24438163
Autopsy; Post-mortem imaging; Minimally invasive virtual autopsy; Guided biopsy; Virtopsy®; Foetus; Stillbirth; Newborn; Infant
3.  The swiss neonatal quality cycle, a monitor for clinical performance and tool for quality improvement 
BMC Pediatrics  2013;13:152.
We describe the setup of a neonatal quality improvement tool and list which peer-reviewed requirements it fulfils and which it does not. We report on the so-far observed effects, how the units can identify quality improvement potential, and how they can measure the effect of changes made to improve quality.
Application of a prospective longitudinal national cohort data collection that uses algorithms to ensure high data quality (i.e. checks for completeness, plausibility and reliability), and to perform data imaging (Plsek’s p-charts and standardized mortality or morbidity ratio SMR charts). The collected data allows monitoring a study collective of very low birth-weight infants born from 2009 to 2011 by applying a quality cycle following the steps ′guideline – perform - falsify – reform′.
2025 VLBW live-births from 2009 to 2011 representing 96.1% of all VLBW live-births in Switzerland display a similar mortality rate but better morbidity rates when compared to other networks. Data quality in general is high but subject to improvement in some units. Seven measurements display quality improvement potential in individual units. The methods used fulfil several international recommendations.
The Quality Cycle of the Swiss Neonatal Network is a helpful instrument to monitor and gradually help improve the quality of care in a region with high quality standards and low statistical discrimination capacity.
PMCID: PMC3856669  PMID: 24074151
Very preterm infants; Very low birth weight infants; Quality assessment; Quality indicators; Benchmarking; Falsification; Mortality; Morbidity; Evidence based medicine
4.  Outcome at two years of age in a Swiss national cohort of extremely preterm infants born between 2000 and 2008 
BMC Pediatrics  2012;12:198.
While survival rates of extremely preterm infants have improved over the last decades, the incidence of neurodevelopmental disability (ND) in survivors remains high. Representative current data on the severity of disability and of risk factors associated with poor outcome in this growing population are necessary for clinical guidance and parent counselling.
Prospective longitudinal multicentre cohort study of preterm infants born in Switzerland between 240/7 and 276/7 weeks gestational age during 2000–2008. Mortality, adverse outcome (death or severe ND) at two years, and predictors for poor outcome were analysed using multilevel multivariate logistic regression. Neurodevelopment was assessed using Bayley Scales of Infant Development II. Cerebral palsy was graded after the Gross Motor Function Classification System.
Of 1266 live born infants, 422 (33%) died. Follow-up information was available for 684 (81%) survivors: 440 (64%) showed favourable outcome, 166 (24%) moderate ND, and 78 (11%) severe ND. At birth, lower gestational age, intrauterine growth restriction and absence of antenatal corticosteroids were associated with mortality and adverse outcome (p < 0.001). At 360/7 weeks postmenstrual age, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, major brain injury and retinopathy of prematurity were the main predictors for adverse outcome (p < 0.05). Survival without moderate or severe ND increased from 27% to 39% during the observation period (p = 0.02).
In this recent Swiss national cohort study of extremely preterm infants, neonatal mortality was determined by gestational age, birth weight, and antenatal corticosteroids while neurodevelopmental outcome was determined by the major neonatal morbidities. We observed an increase of survival without moderate or severe disability.
PMCID: PMC3546845  PMID: 23272671
Development; Disability; Mortality; Outcome; Preterm
5.  Population based trends in mortality, morbidity and treatment for very preterm- and very low birth weight infants over 12 years 
BMC Pediatrics  2012;12:17.
Over the last two decades, improvements in medical care have been associated with a significant increase and better outcome of very preterm (VP, < 32 completed gestational weeks) and very low birth weight (VLBW, < 1500 g) infants. Only a few publications analyse changes of their short-term outcome in a geographically defined area over more than 10 years. We therefore aimed to investigate the net change of VP- and VLBW infants leaving the hospital without major complications.
Our population-based observational cohort study used the Minimal Neonatal Data Set, a database maintained by the Swiss Society of Neonatology including information of all VP- and VLBW infants. Perinatal characteristics, mortality and morbidity rates and the survival free of major complications were analysed and their temporal trends evaluated.
In 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008, a total number of 3090 infants were enrolled in the Network Database. At the same time the rate of VP- and VLBW neonates increased significantly from 0.87% in 1996 to 1.10% in 2008 (p < 0.001). The overall mortality remained stable by 13%, but the survival free of major complications increased from 66.9% to 71.7% (p < 0.01). The percentage of infants getting a full course of antenatal corticosteroids increased from 67.7% in 1996 to 91.4% in 2008 (p < 0.001). Surfactant was given more frequently (24.8% in 1996 compared to 40.1% in 2008, p < 0.001) and the frequency of mechanical ventilation remained stable by about 43%. However, the use of CPAP therapy increased considerably from 43% to 73.2% (p < 0.001). Some of the typical neonatal pathologies like bronchopulmonary dysplasia, necrotising enterocolitis and intraventricular haemorrhage decreased significantly (p ≤ 0.02) whereas others like patent ductus arteriosus and respiratory distress syndrome increased (p < 0.001).
Over the 12-year observation period, the number of VP- and VLBW infants increased significantly. An unchanged overall mortality rate and an increase of survivors free of major complication resulted in a considerable net gain in infants with potentially good outcome.
PMCID: PMC3311070  PMID: 22356724
6.  Pulse oximetry in the newborn: Is the left hand pre- or post-ductal? 
BMC Pediatrics  2010;10:35.
Over the past few years, great efforts have been made to screen duct-dependent congenital heart diseases in the newborn. Arterial pulse oximetry screening (foot and/or right hand) has been put forth as the most useful strategy to prevent circulatory collapse. The left hand, however, has always been ignored, as it was unclear if the ductus arteriosus influences left-hand arterial perfusion. The objective of our study was to evaluate the impact of the arterial duct on neonatal pulse oximetry saturation (POS) on the left hand.
In this observational study, arterial oxygen saturation on both hands and on one foot was measured within the first 4 hours of life.
Two hundred fifty-one newborns were studied: 53% males and 47% were delivered by caesarean section. The median gestational age was 38 4/7 weeks (90% CI, 32 6/7 - 41 2/7 weeks), the median birth weight was 3140 g (90% CI, 1655 - 4110 g) and the median age at recording was 60 minutes (90% CI, 15 - 210 minutes). The mean POS for the overall study population was 95.7% (90% CI, 90 - 100%) on the right hand, 95.7% (90% CI, 90 - 100%) on the left hand, and 94.9% (90% CI, 86 - 100%) on the foot. Four subgroups (preterm infants, babies with respiratory disorders, neonates delivered by caesarean section, and newborns ≤15 minutes of age) were formed and analysed separately. None of the subgroups showed a statistically significant difference between the right and left hands. Additionally, multivariate logistic regression did not identify any associated factors influencing the POS on the left hand.
With the exception of some children with complex or duct dependent congenital heart defects and some children with persistent pulmonary hypertension, POS on both hands can be considered equally pre-ductal.
PMCID: PMC2879243  PMID: 20492689
7.  Comparison of a new transcutaneous bilirubinometer (Bilimed®) with serum bilirubin measurements in preterm and full-term infants 
BMC Pediatrics  2009;9:70.
The gold standard to assess hyperbilirubinemia in neonates remains the serum bilirubin measurement. Unfortunately, this is invasive, painful, and costly. Bilimed®, a new transcutaneous bilirubinometer, suggests more accuracy compared to the existing non-invasive bilirubinometers because of its new technology. It furthermore takes into account different skin colours. No contact with the skin is needed during measurement, no additional material costs occur. Our aim was to assess the agreement between the Bilimed® and serum bilirubin in preterm and term infants of different skin colours.
The transcutaneous bilirubin measurements were performed on the infant's sternum and serum bilirubin was determined simultaneously. The agreement between both methods was assessed by Pearson's correlation and by Bland-Altman analysis.
A total of 117 measurement cycles were performed in 99 term infants (group1), further 47 measurements in 38 preterm infants born between 34 - 36 6/7 gestational weeks (group 2), and finally 21 measurements in 13 preterm infants born between 28 - 33 6/7 gestational weeks (group 3). The mean deviation and variability (+/- 2SD) of the transcutaneous from serum bilirubin were: -14 (+/- 144) μmol/l; -0.82 (+/- 8.4) mg/dl in group 1, +16 (+/- 91) μmol/l;+0.93(+/- 5.3) mg/dl in group 2 and -8 (+/- 76) μmol/l; -0.47 (+/- 4.4) mg/dl in group 3. These limits of agreement are too wide to be acceptable in a clinical setting. Moreover, there was to be a trend towards less good agreement with increasing bilirubin values.
Despite its new technology the Bilimed® has no advantages, and more specifically no better agreement not only in term and near-term Caucasian infants, but also in non-Caucasian and more premature infants.
PMCID: PMC2784449  PMID: 19909530

Results 1-7 (7)