Study of cord blood nucleated RBC’s as a marker for fetal asphyxia

Suvarna Jyothi Ganta, Sunanda R. Kulkarni


Background: Perinatal asphyxia is a serious problem globally and is a common cause of neonatal mortality and long term morbidity. Various Parameters are being used as predictors for birth asphyxia but the correlation between clinical presentation and the biochemical results has been unsatisfactory. NRBC count of the cord blood is reported in literature as a possible marker of perinatal asphyxia. In-utero hypoxic episode may induce a haemopoetic response of exaggerated erythropoiesis leading to the presence of nucleated RBC's in fetal circulation. The aim of this study was to investigate whether NRBC count of the cord blood can be a useful parameter to determine perinatal asphyxia.

Methods: This prospective case control study was conducted in Chinmaya Mission hospital, Bangalore, India between July 2015 to June 2016.we have studied the NRBC counts from the cord blood of 50 neonates with perinatal asphyxia and 50 healthy neonates, thus comparing the results.

Results: The mean NRBC /100 WBC for cases with birth asphyxia was 11.6 and that of the control group was 5.6. NRBC count was found to be significantly higher in neonates with low Apgar scores. There was correlation between the Apgar scores at 1st and at 5 minutes, the degree of Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy and the NRBC counts.

Conclusions: Therefore NRBC counts of the cord blood can be used as an effective tool to confirm perinatal asphyxia. It is a simple, quick, accurate and clinically effective test to diagnose and initiate treatment to prevent long term sequel of perinatal asphyxia.


Cord blood, HIE, Hypoxia, Nucleated red blood cells, Perinatal asphyxia

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