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Open Access Research article

A pilot study to determine the feasibility of collecting amniotic fluid samples from women during labour and measuring amniotic fluid lactate at point of care

Beverley Hall12*, Jenna Iwasenko34, Mary Moriatis5, William D Rawlinson34, Mark B Tracy16 and Sally K Tracy12

Author Affiliations

1 University of Sydney, Darlington, NSW 2006, Australia

2 Midwifery and Women’s Health Nursing Research Unit, Royal Hospital for Women, Randwick, NSW 2031, Australia

3 Virology Research, Department of Microbiology, Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick, NSW 2031, Australia

4 School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Kensington, NSW 2031, Australia

5 Department of Clinical Chemistry, South Eastern Area Laboratory Services, Randwick 2031, Australia

6 Centre for Newborn Care, Westmead Hospital, Westmead, NSW 2145, Australia

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BMC Research Notes 2013, 6:112  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-6-112

Published: 26 March 2013



The level of lactate in amniotic fluid may provide useful clinical information when assessing progress of a woman’s labour and if so, a rapid, reliable method to assess amniotic fluid lactate is required in order to be clinically relevant. However, measuring lactate levels in amniotic fluid, using portable, handheld lactate meters may be less accurate than reference laboratory instruments designed to measure lactate levels in aqueous solutions. Prior to conducting a large study, we assessed recruitment, consent and sampling procedures, and the accuracy of a handheld lactate meter to measure lactate in amniotic fluid. We compared amniotic fluid lactate results obtained using the hand held Lactate Pro (Arkray) to results obtained using reference laboratory methods ABX Pentra 400 (Horiba).


We recruited 35 nulliparous women during their antenatal hospital visits and tested amniotic fluid samples collected from 20 labouring women. The handheld Lactate Pro meter was found accurate from 9–20 mmol/L with a Passing & Bablok regression of y = 0.18 + 0.97x (95% CI 0.76–1.45). Amniotic fluid lactate results remained reliable in the presence of potential contaminants commonly encountered during labour; obstetric lubricant, blood and meconium.


The measurement of amniotic fluid lactate using the Lactate Pro meter was reliable compared to reference laboratory methods for measuring lactate levels in amniotic fluid. The pilot study enabled the refinement of information, recruitment, consenting and sampling procedures prior to commencing a large cohort study.

Dystocia; Lactate; Amniotic fluid; Labour; Point of care