Aims: This study aimed to simplify fetal monitoring, reduce inter-observer differences and false-positive diagnosis
and monitor a large number of births simultaneously. Methods: Fetal signals from several births were transmitted to
a central computer via local area network (LAN) or telemetry and analyzed using a multichannel timesharing system. Fetal
heart rate (FHR) abnormalities were detected by using three programs: the experts' knowledge system, power spectral
analysis and artificial neural network. Abnormal results were automatically communicated directly to the attending doctor.
Instead of an FHR chart recorder, the original fetal signals were stored on the computer and re-processed on demand.
Results: a maximal FHR score in the first stage of labor indicated a low Apgar score, and correlated with umbilical blood
pH. The fetal distress index derived from the FHR score was three or more in cases of fetal acidosis. The neural network
yielded probabilities of fetal outcome that coincided with the FHR score, and the neural index derived from these probabilities
predicted fetal outcome. Pathological sinusoidal FHR and severe loss of FHR variability were automatically
diagnosed by power spectral analysis. Perinatal mortality was 1.1 in 1.000 births, which was significantly lower using this
central computerized system than the previous system, and no cases of cerebral palsy were reported 2 months after
delivery. Conclusion: The central computerized automated fetal monitoring system improved fetal outcomes even in institutions
dealing with a large number of births.