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Semin Pediatr Surg. 2014 Oct;23(5):240-3. doi: 10.1053/j.sempedsurg.2014.09.002. Epub 2014 Sep 3.

Prenatal counselling and the role of the paediatric surgeon.

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Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine Department, Antoine Béclère Hospital, AP-HP, Paris-Sud University, 157 rue de la Porte de Trivaux, 92141 Clamart, France. Electronic address:
Paediatric Surgery Department, Necker Enfants Malades Hospital, Paris Descartes University, Paris, France.


With the development of prenatal ultrasound and of foetal medicine, the paediatric surgeon has extended his knowledge of the natural history of surgical malformations. He is a part of the prenatal team and parents should always be referred to him when a surgical malformation is suspected, even when termination of pregnancy is planned because of an expected poor prognosis. Direct contact between the prenatal medicine specialist and the paediatric surgeon is also highly recommended to ensure continuity in the messages delivered to the parents. Postnatal counselling does not compare with prenatal counselling, and the paediatric surgeon has learned from the obstetrician to modulate his talk by including other conditions that might affect the outcome of the foetus, especially genetically determined syndromes. When the foetal malformation is diagnosed very early, especially in the first trimester, it therefore seems important for the consultation with the paediatric surgeon to be scheduled when the complementary exams required by the anomalies diagnosed are done, in order to avoid later contradictory messages. Repeated consultations should be favoured as they allow provision of more precise information regarding changes in ultrasound and/or MRI images and so decrease parents׳ anxiety and help them to take their decision. Foetal surgery, which has reached various stages of development in different countries, requires paediatric surgeons and obstetricians to join forces to optimise procedures and evaluate their benefit/risk ratio. Since 2004, the National Rare Disease Plan in France has allowed the creation of Rare Disease Centres, which deal with congenital malformations and produce recommendations for the health care pathway of these patients by means of a multidisciplinary approach. This greatly enhances interdisciplinary communication and ensures that best care is provided to the parents-to-be and to their child.


Congenital malformation; Counselling; Foetus; In utero surgery; Prognosis

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