BMC Pediatr. 2006 Apr 20;6(1):13
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: ACOG states meconium stained amniotic fluid (MSAF) as one of the historical indicators of perinatal asphyxia. Thick meconium along with other indicators is used to identify babies with severe intrapartum asphyxia. Lactate creatinine ratio (L: C ratio) of 0.64 or higher in first passed urine of babies suffering severe intrapartum asphyxia has been shown to predict Hypoxic Ischaemic Encephalopathy (HIE). Literature review shows that meconium is passed in distress and thin meconium results from mixing and dilution over time, which may be hours to days. Thin meconium may thus be used as an indicator of antepartum asphyxia. We tested L: C ratios in a group of babies born through thin and thick meconium, and for comparison, in a group of babies without meconium at birth. METHODS: 86 consecutive newborns, 36 to 42 weeks of gestation, with meconium staining of liquor, were recruited for the study. 52 voided urine within 6 hours of birth; of these 27 had thick meconium and 25 had thin meconium at birth. 42 others, who did not have meconium or any other signs of asphyxia at birth provided controls. Lactate and creatinine levels in urine were tested by standard enzymatic methods in the three groups. RESULTS: Lactate values are highest in the thin MSAF group followed by the thick MSAF and controls. Creatinine was lowest in the thin MSAF, followed by thick MSAF and controls. Normal babies had an average L: C ratio of 0.13 (+/- 0.09). L: C ratio was more among thin MSAF babies (4.3 +/- 11.94) than thick MSAF babies (0.35 +/- 0.35). Median L: C ratio was also higher in the thin MSAF group. Variation in the values of these parameters is observed to be high in the thin MSAF group as compared to other groups. L: C ratio was above the cutoff of 0.64 of Huang et al in 40% of those with thin meconium. 2 of these developed signs of HIE with convulsions (HIE Sarnat and Sarnat Stage II) during hospital stay. One had L: C Ratio of 93 and the other of 58.6. A smaller proportion (20%) of those with thick meconium had levels above the cutoff and 2 developed HIE and convulsions with L: C ratio of 1.25 and 1.1 respectively. CONCLUSION: In evolving a cutoff of L: C ratios that would be highly sensitive and specific (0.64), Huang et al studied it in a series of babies with severe intrapartum asphyxia. Our study shows that the specificity may not be as good if babies born through thin meconium are also included. L: C ratios are much higher in babies with thin meconium. It may be that meconium alone is not a good indicator of asphyxia and the risk of HIE. However, if the presence of meconium implies asphyxia then perhaps a higher cut-off than 0.64 is needed. L: C ratios should be tested in a larger sample that includes babies with thin meconium, before L: C ratios can be applied universally.