Current attitudes and beliefs toward perinatal care orientation before 25 weeks of gestation: The French perspective in 2020


The survival rate of infants born before 25 weeks of gestational age in France is extremely low compared with that of many other countries: 0%, 1%, and 31% at 22, 23, and 24 weeks’ in the last national cohort study. A non-optimal regionalization and variations in practice are prevalent. Some parents in social media and support groups have reported feeling lost and confused with mixed messages leading to lack of trust. These data kindled a major debate in France around perinatal management leading to an investigation exploring neonatologists’ perspectives and ways to improve care. The majority (81%) of the responding neonatologists reported more active care and higher survival rates than in 2011, although others continued preferring delivery room comfort care and limited NICU treatment at or before 24 weeks. The desire to improve was an overarching theme in all the respondents’ answers to open-ended questions. Barriers to active care included an absence of expertise and of benchmarking to guide optimal care, and limited resources in the NICU and during follow-up – all leading to self-fulfilling prophecies of poor prognosis. Optimization of regionalization, perinatal teamwork and parental involvement, fostering experience by creating specific perinatal centers, stimulating benchmarking, and working with policy makers to allow better long-term outcomes could enable higher survival.