Journal of perinatal medicine

Measurement of novel biomarkers of neuronal injury and cerebral oxygenation after routine vaginal delivery versus cesarean section in term infants.

PMID 25222594


It remains unclear if mode of delivery can have any impact on the neonatal brain. Our aim was to determine in term newborns any differences based on mode of delivery in either neuronal injury biomarkers, phosphorylated axonal neurofilament heavy chain (pNF-H) and ubiquitin C-terminal hydrolase (UCHL1), or brain oxygenation values, regional cerebral tissue oxygen saturation (CrSO2) and cerebral fractional tissue oxygen extraction (CFOE). An Institutional Review Board approved prospective observational pilot study of well newborns. Serum pNF-H and UCHL1 levels were measured on the day following delivery. CrSO2 values along with CFOE values were also measured using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) and pulse oximetry. There were 22 subjects, 15 born vaginally and seven born by cesarean section. No difference was found in mean pNF-H (107.9±54.3 pg/mL vs. 120.2±43.3 pg/mL, P=0.66) or mean UCHL1 (4.0±3.5 pg/mL vs. 3.0±2.2 pg/mL, P=0.68). No difference was found in mean CrSO2 (80.8±5.3% vs. 80.8±5.6%, P=0.99) or mean CFOE (0.17±0.06 vs. 0.15±0.08, P=0.51). We found no difference in neuronal injury markers between term neonates born vaginally compared to those born by cesarean section. From a neurologic standpoint, this supports current obstetric practice guidelines that emphasize vaginal birth as the preferred delivery method whenever possible.