Perinatal care of pregnant women at high risk for preterm delivery and of preterm infants born at the limit of viability (22-26 completed weeks of gestation) requires a multidisciplinary approach by an experienced perinatal team. Limited precision in the determination of both gestational age and foetal weight, as well as biological variability may significantly affect the course of action chosen in individual cases. The decisions that must be taken with the pregnant women and on behalf of the preterm infant in this context are complex and have far-reaching consequences. When counselling pregnant women and their partners, neonatologists and obstetricians should provide them with comprehensive information in a sensitive and supportive way to build a basis of trust. The decisions are developed in a continuing dialogue between all parties involved (physicians, midwives, nursing staff and parents) with the principal aim to find solutions that are in the infant's and pregnant woman's best interest. Knowledge of current gestational age-specific mortality and morbidity rates and how they are modified by prenatally known prognostic factors (estimated foetal weight, sex, exposure or nonexposure to antenatal corticosteroids, single or multiple births) as well as the application of accepted ethical principles form the basis for responsible decision-making. Communication between all parties involved plays a central role. The members of the interdisciplinary working group suggest that the care of preterm infants with a gestational age between 22 0/7 and 23 6/7 weeks should generally be limited to palliative care. Obstetric interventions for foetal indications such as Caesarean section delivery are usually not indicated. In selected cases, for example, after 23 weeks of pregnancy have been completed and several of the above mentioned prenatally known prognostic factors are favourable or well informed parents insist on the initiation of life-sustaining therapies, active obstetric interventions for foetal indications and provisional intensive care of the neonate may be reasonable. In preterm infants with a gestational age between 24 0/7 and 24 6/7 weeks, it can be difficult to determine whether the burden of obstetric interventions and neonatal intensive care is justified given the limited chances of success of such a therapy. In such cases, the individual constellation of prenatally known factors which impact on prognosis can be helpful in the decision making process with the parents. In preterm infants with a gestational age between 25 0/7 and 25 6/7 weeks, foetal surveillance, obstetric interventions for foetal indications and neonatal intensive care measures are generally indicated. However, if several prenatally known prognostic factors are unfavourable and the parents agree, primary non-intervention and neonatal palliative care can be considered. All pregnant women with threatening preterm delivery or premature rupture of membranes at the limit of viability must be transferred to a perinatal centre with a level III neonatal intensive care unit no later than 23 0/7 weeks of gestation, unless emergency delivery is indicated. An experienced neonatology team should be involved in all deliveries that take place after 23 0/7 weeks of gestation to help to decide together with the parents if the initiation of intensive care measures appears to be appropriate or if preference should be given to palliative care (i.e., primary non-intervention). In doubtful situations, it can be reasonable to initiate intensive care and to admit the preterm infant to a neonatal intensive care unit (i.e., provisional intensive care). The infant's clinical evolution and additional discussions with the parents will help to clarify whether the life-sustaining therapies should be continued or withdrawn. Life support is continued as long as there is reasonable hope for survival and the infant's burden of intensive care is acceptable. If, on the other hand, the health care team and the parents have to recognise that in the light of a very poor prognosis the burden of the currently used therapies has become disproportionate, intensive care measures are no longer justified and other aspects of care (e.g., relief of pain and suffering) are the new priorities (i.e., redirection of care). If a decision is made to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining therapies, the health care team should focus on comfort care for the dying infant and support for the parents.
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"So far, the network’s data processing and quality cycle has allowed the revision of the Swiss Neonatal Society‘s guidelines for perinatal care at the limit of viability in 2011
 where the recommended gestational age for engaging into intensive care was lowered from 25 to 24 weeks
. It has also lead to the replacement of hand disinfectant in one of the participating units and to the revision of oxygen saturation levels in all Swiss Level III units. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We describe the setup of a neonatal quality improvement tool and list which peer-reviewed requirements it fulfils and which it does not. We report on the so-far observed effects, how the units can identify quality improvement potential, and how they can measure the effect of changes made to improve quality.
Application of a prospective longitudinal national cohort data collection that uses algorithms to ensure high data quality (i.e. checks for completeness, plausibility and reliability), and to perform data imaging (Plsek's p-charts and standardized mortality or morbidity ratio SMR charts). The collected data allows monitoring a study collective of very low birth-weight infants born from 2009 to 2011 by applying a quality cycle following the steps [prime]guideline -- perform - falsify -- reform[prime].
2025 VLBW live-births from 2009 to 2011 representing 96.1% of all VLBW live-births in Switzerland display a similar mortality rate but better morbidity rates when compared to other networks. Data quality in general is high but subject to improvement in some units. Seven measurements display quality improvement potential in individual units. The methods used fulfil several international recommendations.
The Quality Cycle of the Swiss Neonatal Network is a helpful instrument to monitor and gradually help improve the quality of care in a region with high quality standards and low statistical discrimination capacity.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Antenatal maternal administration of corticosteroids has been shown to reduce morbidity and mortality rates in preterm delivery. Threatened spontaneous or medically indicated preterm delivery for maternal or fetal indications between 24 and 34 weeks of gestation with unknown fetal lung maturity status are indications for antenatal corticosteroid administration. Recent studies have challenged current practice of antenatal glucocorticoid use. The goal of this expert letter is to provide recommendations based for the clinical use of antenatal glucocorticoids based on the current evidence from published studies.
The published literature (PubMed search), as well as the recommendations of other national societies, has been searched and taken into consideration for these recommendations.
The standard regimen of antenatal corticosteroids involves a single course of 2 × 12 mg betamethasone administered intramuscularly within 24 h. The administration of corticosteroids usually is performed between 24 and 34 weeks gestation. However, under particular circumstances it may be beneficial even at 23 weeks and at 35-36 weeks of gestation. The evidence to date is clearly against the routine administration of multiple antenatal steroid courses. In special clinical situations, a second course of betamethasone ("rescue course") may be justifiable. Tocolysis during administration of steroids is not routinely indicated in the absence of contractions, cervical shortening or rupture of membranes.
Archives of Gynecology 04/2012; 286(2):277-81. DOI:10.1007/s00404-012-2339-x · 1.36 Impact Factor