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BJOG. 2012 May;119(6):710-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2012.03285.x. Epub 2012 Mar 7.

An investigation into the reporting and management of late terminations of pregnancy (between 22 +0 and 26 +6 weeks of gestation) within NHS Hospitals in England in 2006: the EPICure preterm cohort study.

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Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK.



To review all late terminations of pregnancy, between 22(+0) and 26(+6) weeks of gestation, collected as part of the EPICure2 study.


Prospective cohort study.


All National Health Service (NHS) hospitals providing perinatal services for extremely preterm infants.


All births between 22(+0) and 26(+6) weeks of gestation in England during 2006.


Data were collected for the defined cohort of births, including terminations of pregnancy, by designated unit staff using a standardised questionnaire. Rigorous validation processes were established to ensure comprehensive data collection. Gestational age was validated using a hierarchical classification of scan dates, certain date of last menstrual period and working gestation. Data for terminations of pregnancy (TOPs) were categorised into two groups, terminations for fetal abnormality and for maternal or fetal compromise, and were analysed in terms of their reporting, management and outcomes.


Classification, rate of feticide and outcome following TOP.


Of 3782 births between 22(+0) and 26(+6) weeks of gestation, 647 (17.1%) were TOPs; of these 584 (90.3%) were for fetal abnormality and 63 (9.7%) for maternal or fetal compromise. Feticide was carried out in 489 of 584 (83.7%) TOPs for fetal abnormality, and in 38 of 63 (60.3%) of the TOPs for maternal or fetal compromise. Live births resulted following 2.2% TOPs for fetal abnormality and 4.8% TOPs for maternal or fetal compromise.


Terminations of pregnancy represent a relatively large proportion of very preterm births. Fetal abnormalities are the main cause for these terminations, and most include feticide. Better screening strategies are required to avoid the need for late terminations of pregnancy for fetal abnormalities.

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