Sustained versus standard inflations during neonatal resuscitation to prevent mortality and improve respiratory outcomes

Matteo Bruschettini, Colm Pf O'Donnell, Peter G Davis, Colin J Morley, Lorenzo Moja, Maria Grazia Calevo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: At birth, infants' lungs are fluid-filled. For newborns to have a successful transition, this fluid must be replaced by air to enable gas exchange. Some infants are judged to have inadequate breathing at birth and are resuscitated with positive pressure ventilation (PPV). Giving prolonged (sustained) inflations at the start of PPV may help clear lung fluid and establish gas volume within the lungs.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the benefits and harms of an initial sustained lung inflation (SLI) (> 1 second duration) versus standard inflations (≤ 1 second) in newborn infants receiving resuscitation with intermittent PPV.

SEARCH METHODS: We used the standard search strategy of Cochrane Neonatal to search the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL; 2019, Issue 3), MEDLINE via PubMed (1966 to 1 April 2019), Embase (1980 to 1 April 2019), and the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) (1982 to 1 April 2019). We also searched clinical trials databases, conference proceedings, and the reference lists of retrieved articles to identify randomised controlled trials and quasi-randomised trials.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-RCTs comparing initial sustained lung inflation (SLI) versus standard inflations given to infants receiving resuscitation with PPV at birth.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: We assessed the methodological quality of included trials using Cochrane Effective Practice and Organisation of Care Group (EPOC) criteria (assessing randomisation, blinding, loss to follow-up, and handling of outcome data). We evaluated treatment effects using a fixed-effect model with risk ratio (RR) for categorical data; and mean standard deviation (SD), and weighted mean difference (WMD) for continuous data. We used the GRADE approach to assess the quality of evidence.

MAIN RESULTS: Ten trials enrolling 1467 infants met our inclusion criteria. Investigators in nine trials (1458 infants) administered sustained inflation with no chest compressions. Use of sustained inflation had no impact on the primary outcomes of this review: mortality in the delivery room (typical RR 2.66, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.11 to 63.40 (I² not applicable); typical RD 0.00, 95% CI -0.02 to 0.02; I² = 0%; 5 studies, 479 participants); and mortality during hospitalisation (typical RR 1.09, 95% CI 0.83 to 1.43; I² = 42%; typical RD 0.01, 95% CI -0.02 to 0.04; I² = 24%; 9 studies, 1458 participants). The quality of the evidence was low for death in the delivery room because of limitations in study design and imprecision of estimates (only one death was recorded across studies). For death before discharge the quality was moderate: with longer follow-up there were more deaths (n = 143) but limitations in study design remained. Among secondary outcomes, duration of mechanical ventilation was shorter in the SLI group (mean difference (MD) -5.37 days, 95% CI -6.31 to -4.43; I² = 95%; 5 studies, 524 participants; low-quality evidence). Heterogeneity, statistical significance, and magnitude of effects of this outcome are largely influenced by a single study at high risk of bias: when this study was removed from the analysis, the size of the effect was reduced (MD -1.71 days, 95% CI -3.04 to -0.39; I² = 0%). Results revealed no differences in any of the other secondary outcomes (e.g. risk of endotracheal intubation outside the delivery room by 72 hours of age (typical RR 0.91, 95% CI 0.79 to 1.04; I² = 65%; 5 studies, 811 participants); risk of surfactant administration during hospital admission (typical RR 0.99, 95% CI 0.91 to 1.08; I² = 0%; 9 studies, 1458 participants); risk of chronic lung disease (typical RR 0.99, 95% CI 0.83 to 1.18; I² = 0%; 4 studies, 735 participants); pneumothorax (typical RR 0.89, 95% CI 0.57 to 1.40; I² = 34%; 8 studies, 1377 infants); or risk of patent ductus arteriosus requiring pharmacological treatment (typical RR 0.99, 95% CI 0.87 to 1.12; I² = 48%; 7 studies, 1127 infants). The quality of evidence for these secondary outcomes was moderate (limitations in study design ‒ GRADE) except for pneumothorax (low quality: limitations in study design and imprecision of estimates ‒ GRADE). We could not perform any meta-analysis in the comparison of the use of initial sustained inflation versus standard inflations in newborns receiving resuscitation with chest compressions because we identified only one trial for inclusion (a pilot study of nine preterm infants).

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Our meta-analysis of nine studies shows that sustained lung inflation without chest compression was not better than intermittent ventilation for reducing mortality in the delivery room (low-quality evidence ‒ GRADE) or during hospitalisation (moderate-quality evidence ‒ GRADE), which were the primary outcomes of this review. However, the single largest study, which was well conducted and had the greatest number of enrolled infants, was stopped early for higher mortality rate in the sustained inflation group. When considering secondary outcomes, such as rate of intubation, rate or duration of respiratory support, or bronchopulmonary dysplasia, we found no benefit of sustained inflation over intermittent ventilation (moderate-quality evidence ‒ GRADE). Duration of mechanical ventilation was shortened in the SLI group (low-quality evidence ‒ GRADE); this result should be interpreted cautiously, however, as it might have been influenced by study characteristics other than the intervention. There is no evidence to support the use of sustained inflation based on evidence from our review.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)CD004953
JournalThe Cochrane database of systematic reviews
Publication statusPublished - Mar 18 2020


  • Cerebral Intraventricular Hemorrhage/epidemiology
  • Ductus Arteriosus, Patent/drug therapy
  • Heart Massage
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intubation, Intratracheal/methods
  • Lung Diseases/epidemiology
  • Pneumothorax/epidemiology
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration/instrumentation
  • Pulmonary Surfactants/administration & dosage
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Respiration, Artificial/statistics & numerical data
  • Resuscitation/methods
  • Time Factors


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