Delivery room continuous positive airway pressure and early pneumothorax in term newborn infants

OBJECTIVE: To assess the association between delivery room (DR) continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and pneumothorax (PT) in term newborns.
METHODS: Two studies performed in community hospitals used data extracted from computerized records of term newborns. Infants receiving positive pressure ventilation in the DR were excluded. Tabulated data included receipt of DR CPAP, PT on the day of birth, and gestational age (GA). In a case-control study from 2001–2013, infants with PT were compared to controls without PT but with respiratory distress or hypoxia persisting from birth for receipt of DR CPAP. In a cohort study from 2014–2016, infants receiving and not receiving DR CPAP were compared for the incidence of PT.
RESULTS: In the case-control study, data were obtained for 169 cases and 850 controls. Compared to controls, PT infants were more likely to have received DR CPAP (16.8% vs. 40.2%, respectively, P < 0.001). Logistic regression revealed DR CPAP (Adjusted Odds Ratio [AOR] = 3.30, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.31, 4.72, P < 0.001) and GA (AOR = 1.21, 95% CI = 1.05, 1.39, P = 0.009) to be independent predictors of early PT. In the cohort study, PT was observed in 0.1% of 9255 control infants not receiving DR CPAP and 4.8% of 228 infants receiving DR CPAP (P < 0.001). In logistic regression analyses, DR CPAP significantly predicted PT (OR = 59.59, 95% CI = 23.34, 147.12, P < 0.001) and remained a significant predictor of PT after controlling for gestational age.
CONCLUSION: Respiratory conditions treated with CPAP in delivery rooms are associated with increased risk of PT. A cause-and-effect relationship between CPAP and PT cannot be claimed in this study. Further research is needed to better understand this relationship.

*Corresponding Author: 

John R. Britton, MD, PhD, Saint Joseph Hospital, 1375 East 19th Avenue, Denver, CO 80218, USA. Tel.: +1 303 812 4442; Fax: +1 303 812 4239; E-mail: