Cochrane Summaries

Trusted evidence. Informed decisions. Better health.

Air versus oxygen for resuscitation of infants at birth

Tan A, Schulze AA, O'Donnell CPF, Davis PG
Published Online: 
21 January 2009

About 5 to 10% of infants need resuscitation at birth. Many experts recommend that these babies be resuscitated with 100% oxygen, but other experts think that normal room air is as good as or better than 100% oxygen. Too much oxygen can make breathing difficult for babies and can cause other problems such as problems with brain development, an eye condition (retinopathy of prematurity), and a lung condition (bronchopulmonary dysplasia). The authors of this Cochrane review questioned whether resuscitation with room air resulted in fewer deaths or disabilities than 100% oxygen. After searching the literature, they found five studies. There were a total of 1302 infants in these studies; 24% of them were premature. In the studies, fewer babies died when resuscitated with room air than with 100% oxygen. Many of the babies resuscitated with room air also got some oxygen as a supplement, making it difficult to compare the two groups. There were also other problems with the way the studies were carried out. The authors of the Cochrane review concluded that there is not enough evidence to recommend room air over 100% oxygen, or vice versa.

This record should be cited as: 
Tan A, Schulze AA, O'Donnell CPF, Davis PG. Air versus oxygen for resuscitation of infants at birth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2005, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD002273. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD002273.pub3
Assessed as up to date: 
16 February 2005