Objective: This study aims to explore the current attitudes of Australian neonatologists and nurses towards the resuscitation of extremely preterm infants.
Methodology: An anonymous questionnaire regarding resuscitation of infants of less than 28 weeks gestation was sent to all neonatologists and three registered nurses in each perinatal centre in Australia.
Results: One hundred and thirty-three questionnaires were sent. A return rate of 93% and 73% was obtained from neonatologists and nurses, respectively. Twenty-two per cent of neonatologists would 'occasionally' resuscitate at 22 weeks while none of the nurses would. A considerable proportion of neonatologists (23%) but only a few nurses (6%) would 'quite often' resuscitate 23-week infants. The majority of neonatologists (85%) and nurses (88%) would 'almost always' resuscitate 24 week infants. More than half of the respondents would 'occasionally' resuscitate a 400-499 g infant and most would resuscitate infants weighing more than 500 g. Clinicians were not as optimistic of long-term outcome as they were for survival. Typically, only 52% of neonatologists and 38% of nurses thought babies of 25 weeks gestation had a greater than 50% chance of survival without major handicap. Parental wishes and the presence of congenital abnormalities were major influences on decision to resuscitate. Hypothetically, most respondents, more doctors than nurses, would consider initiating resuscitation without parental consent at a median gestation of 25 weeks.
Conclusions: The majority of Australian clinicians would resuscitate at a gestation of 24 weeks or greater or at a birth weight of over 500 g despite conservative estimates of intact survival. This survey has brought to light the importance of communication with parents prior to extreme premature birth.