Lung Function Assessment at 35-37 weeks Gestational Age

What is the Neonatal Lung Function Assessment?

The Neonatal Lung Function Assessment measures how well your baby’s lungs are working. The assessment is performed for all babies born before 28 weeks gestation when they get to 35-37 weeks gestational age in hospitals throughout Australia and New Zealand.

It involves measuring the amount of oxygen that your baby is breathing and your baby’s oxygen saturation levels while lying quietly in bed. The assessment will be performed when your baby is stable and usually at least 30 minutes after a feed, nappy change or other handling.

We will use the oxygen saturation monitor (pulse oximeter) to safely make small changes to the oxygen provided to your baby. The assessment will take between 30-60 minutes.

Are there risks?

For most babies, there are no risks in in the assessment, as we will not be changing their usual care. In a small group of babies we may try to wean the oxygen if they seem ready for this. Sometimes this may result in a small fall in oxygen saturation. A brief fall in oxygen saturation (eg oxygen saturation <90 for 5-10 minutes) is not known to be associated with any adverse outcome.

We will monitor your baby closely and will return your baby to his/her usual level of support if the oxygen saturation levels fall below 90 for more than 5 minutes (or below 80 for 15 seconds), or if your baby has an apnoea or bradycardia or any other signs of being tired.

We will stop the assessment if your baby becomes unstable in any way and ensure that your baby receives the care that he/she needs.

What happens after the Neonatal Lung Function Assessment?

At the end of the 30 minute Lung Function Assessment your baby will be returned to the oxygen levels and method of oxygen delivery that he/she was in before starting the assessment.

Your baby’s doctors will use the information obtained from the Neonatal Lung Function Assessment to provide the best care for your baby.

The results of your baby’s Neonatal Lung Function Assessment will also be recorded in your baby’s notes and collected as part of the Australian and New Zealand Neonatal Network (ANZNN) Audit data, so that we can get more information about the lung function of babies who have been born very prematurely before they are discharged home.

Your doctor or nurse will be happy to speak to you about the results of your baby’s Neonatal Lung Function Assessment.

Lung function assessment