Survival after non-aggressive obstetric management in cases of severe fetal anomalies: a retrospective study.


OBJECTIVE Obstetricians may choose to refrain from interventions aimed at sustaining fetal life (i.e., non-aggressive obstetric management) when the fetus has an extremely poor prognosis. However, if the infant is then born alive, crucial neonatal management decisions then have to be made. We sought empirical data concerning such perinatal end-of-life decisions. Firstly, to describe survival during delivery and after birth following non-aggressive obstetric management, and secondly, to describe neonatal management in infants born alive after non-aggressive obstetric management. DESIGN Retrospective descriptive study. SETTING Tertiary centre. POPULATION Eighty-one infants born to women who opted for a non-aggressive obstetric management policy because of sonographically diagnosed severe fetal anomaly. METHODS Data were collected from obstetric and neonatal records, as well as ultrasound reports. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES Survival, neonatal management and health status after birth. RESULTS Relevant data were available for 78/80 (98%) infants. Six (8%) infants died in utero, 16 (21%) died during delivery (11 from cephalocentesis) and 56 (72%) were born alive. Life-sustaining neonatal treatment was initiated in 29 (52%) of the live-born infants. Twenty-three of these 29 (79%) infants died within six months of birth. Of the 27 live-born infants who did not receive neonatal life-sustaining treatment, 25 (93%) died. Eight infants survived; all with severe health problems. CONCLUSION Life-sustaining neonatal support after non-aggressive obstetric management in the presence of severe fetal malformation has little impact on survival.

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@article{Bijma2005SurvivalAN, title={Survival after non-aggressive obstetric management in cases of severe fetal anomalies: a retrospective study.}, author={Hilmar H. Bijma and Agnes van der Heide and Hajo I. J. Wildschut and Suzanne van de Vathorst and Dick Tibboel and Juriy W. Wladimiroff and Paul J. van der Maas}, journal={BJOG : an international journal of obstetrics and gynaecology}, year={2005}, volume={112 12}, pages={1630-5} }