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A respiratory rate of ≥60 breaths per minute had high sensitivity for detecting hypoxia in infants
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 QUESTION: In ill infants <2 months of age, can the respiratory rate be used as an indicator of hypoxia?

Design

Blinded comparison of respiratory rate with oxygen saturation level.

Setting

A hospital paediatric emergency service in Chandigarh, India.

Participants

200 infants who were <2 months of age (mean age 28 d) and had symptoms of any acute illness. Exclusion criteria were age <24 hours, major congenital malformations, previous admission to hospital, or active cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Description of test and diagnostic standard

The respiratory rate was counted for 1 minute while observing the infant's chest and abdominal movements when the infant was quiet. If the respiratory rate was ≥50 breaths/minute, the rate was counted again after 30 minutes. The diagnostic standard was the assessment of oxygen saturation, which was measured at the finger or toe with a pulse oximeter (BCI, Waukesha, WI, USA). Hypoxia was defined as an oxygen saturation level ≤90%.

Main outcome measures

Sensitivity and specificity for detecting hypoxia.

Main results

77 infants (39%) had hypoxia. The table shows sensitivities, specificities, and likelihood ratios. The …

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