Using conventional criteria, a series of 26 infants was selected for intrapartum asphyxia from about 4000 deliveries over one year at a single hospital to assess the efficacy of a new biochemical method. Tissue damage was estimated from urinary excretion of hypoxanthine, an important and central intermediate in purine metabolism. The overall pattern showed agreement between the grading (by previously accepted methods) of asphyxia in the perinatal period and our new biochemical approach. The association with handicap at one year of age following asphyxia was complex. This biochemical technique could be used to exclude postasphyxial damage as a cause of clinical disturbances and to select a small group (0.1% of all births) who require further investigation for rarer disorders which may also cause long term handicap.
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