Approximately 10% of newborn infants require some form of respiratory support to successfully complete the fetal-to-neonatal transition. Heart rate (HR) determination is essential at birth to assess a newborn’s wellbeing. Not only is it the most sensitive indicator to guide interventions during neonatal resuscitation, it is also valuable for assessing the infant’s clinical status. As such, HR assessment is a key step at birth and throughout resuscitation, according to recommendations by the Neonatal Resuscitation Program algorithm. It is essential that HR is accurate, reliable, and fast to ensure interventions are delivered without delay and not prolonged. Ineffective HR assessment significantly increases the risk of hypoxic injury and infant mortality. The aims of this review are to summarize current practice, recommended techniques, novel technologies, and considerations for HR assessment during neonatal resuscitation at birth.
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