Introduction: After discussion with the parents, periviable infants can receive either active treatment or palliative care. The rate of active treatment in France is lower than in other developed countries, as is the survival rate of infants in this gestational age range. This study’s main objective was to assess the effect of a standardized perinatal management protocol (EXPRIM) on the neonatal outcome of children born before 27 weeks of gestation.
Methods: A before-and-after study was conducted in the two level-3 hospitals of the Risks and Pregnancy DHU to compare two 16-month periods. The EXPRIM protocol was based on routine administration of prenatal corticosteroid therapy and a scheduled combined obstetric-pediatric group prenatal prognostic evaluation, not based solely on gestational age. The study included all births between 22 weeks and 26 weeks+6 days of gestation, except in utero deaths diagnosed at admission and medical terminations of pregnancy for fetal malformation, both excluded. The principal endpoint was survival without severe neonatal morbidity.
Results: The study included 267 women: 116 (128 newborns) in period 1 and 151 (172 newborns) in period 2. The median gestational age at admission to the maternity unit was 2.5 days younger in period 2, and the number of women admitted at 22-23 weeks doubled in period 2 (59 vs 29, respectively). Overall, the rates of live births, NICU transfer, and survival without severe morbidity were similar during the two periods. More infants were liveborn between 22 and 24 weeks in period 2 (66 vs 43). Of all newborns transferred to the NICU, 26 (29%) survived without severe morbidity in period 1 and 46 (39%) in period 2. After multivariate analysis, survival without severe morbidity did not differ significantly.
Conclusion: Implementation of the EXPRIM protocol led to active treatment of more mothers and their children at the border of viability, and increased the number of children who survived without severe morbidity even if, overall, there was no statistically significant difference in percentage.