An active management approach to the postdate fetus with a reactive nonstress test and fetal heart rate decelerations

Mary L. Small, Jeffrey P. Phelan, Carl V. Smith, Richard H. Paul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Reports have shown that a reactive nonstress test (NST) with decelerations in the postdate patient is associated with an increase in perinatal morbidity. Based on these observations, patients who exhibited this fetal heart rate (FHR) pattern during NST had labor induced. The purpose of this report was to determine what impact, if any, this approach had on subsequent maternal and fetal outcome. The pregnancy outcome of 470 patients who delivered during 1984 within seven days of their last NST was compared with data from this institution in 1980. The last NST was reactive in 420 patients (89.4%) and nonreactive in 50 (10.6%). Fetal heart rate decelerations occurred in 130 patients (27.7%); of these, 96 (73.9%) were reactive and 34 (26.1%) nonreactive. Postdate patients whose last NST was reactive with decelerations had similar outcomes to patients with a nonreactive NST on their last test, but less favorable outcomes than patients with reactive tests alone. Comparison with data from our institution in 1980 shows that prompt induction of labor in the postdate patient with a reactive NST and decelerations resulted in significantly lower perinatal morbidity, with no corresponding increase in maternal morbidity. These results lead us to conclude that a reactive NST without FHR decelerations is a reliable indicator of fetal well-being in the postdate pregnancy. However, in the postdate pregnancy with a reactive NST with FHR decelerations, induction of labor is indicated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)636-640
Number of pages5
JournalObstetrics and gynecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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