The adequacy of initial ventilation in 21 preterm babies (25-36 weeks' gestation), who required endotracheal intubation and positive pressure ventilation, were studied. Pressure and flow were measured at the proximal end of the endotracheal intubation tube and expiratory volume calculated from the flow trace. The results were compared with those from a group of 26 term infants who also required resuscitation. Five of 21 preterm babies (24%) had adequate tidal ventilation with the first inflation. This rose to seven of 21 (33%) by the third inflation. This was significantly less than the results in the term infants (chi 2 = 4.38 p less than 0.05). Respiratory reflex responses to resuscitation were seen in 41% of inflations in preterm and 56% of inflations in term infants. There was a significant correlation between reflex activity and adequate ventilation in the preterm group (chi 2 = 11.83, p less than 0.001) but not in the term group (chi 2 = 0.212, p = NS). No correlation was seen between initial ventilation and outcome.
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