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Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 2001 Aug;41(3):275-80.

Antenatal counselling, resuscitation practices and attitudes among Australian neonatologists towards life support in extreme prematurity.

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Department of Paediatrics and Ritchie Centre for Baby Health Research, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.


A questionnaire survey of Australian neonatologists was conducted to ascertain their antenatal counselling and resuscitation practices, and attitudes towards life support in the extremely preterm infant. This study showed that in antenatal parental counselling, whether a paediatrician was given the opportunity to participate depends on the gestation at the time of the threatened preterm delivery The counselling employed almost invariably covered mortality and morbidity. The obstetrician's opinion was considered to be of utmost importance. Both financial and moral obligations were found to be of little importance in counselling and resuscitation. Only one-third of institutions had guidelines for limiting resuscitation. The onus remained on the neonatologists concerning which infant to resuscitate, and the level of the resuscitation to be conducted. In Australia, resuscitation at birth was restricted to infants of 23 weeks' gestation or above, and neonatologists did not believe the legal system has a role to play in limiting or mandating resuscitation of extremely preterm infants. Neither were they concerned with the threat of litigation when they decide to limit resuscitation. The majority of neonatologists agreed with their institution's approach to life support in extremely preterm infants. One grey area was the question of withholding assisted feeding in an infant for which the decision to withdraw life support has been made. Australia lacked a current consensus policy on selective non-treatment. The establishment of national guidelines would be helpful to aid Australian obstetricians and neonatologists in their clinical practice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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