Background: Advances in neonatal care continue to lower the limit of viability. Decision making in this grey zone remains a challenging process.
Objective: To explore the opinions of healthcare providers on resuscitation and outcome in the less than 28-week preterm newborn.
Design/methods: An anonymous postal questionnaire was sent to health care providers working in maternity units in the Republic of Ireland. Questions related to neonatal management of the extreme preterm infant, and estimated survival and long-term outcome.
Results: The response rate was 55% (74% obstetricians and 70% neonatologists). Less than 1% would advocate resuscitation at 22 weeks, 10% of health care providers advocate resuscitation at 23 weeks gestation, 80% of all health care providers would resuscitate at 24 weeks gestation. 20% of all health care providers would advocate cessation of resuscitation efforts on 22-25 weeks gestation at 5 min of age. 65% of Neonatologists and 54% trainees in Paediatrics would cease resuscitation at 10 min of age. Obstetricians were more pessimistic about survival and long term outcome in newborns delivered between 23 and 27 weeks when compared with neonatologists. This difference was also observed in trainees in paediatrics and obstetrics.
Conclusion: Neonatologists, trainees in paediatrics and neonatal nurses are generally more optimistic about outcome than their counterparts in obstetrical care and this is reflected in a greater willingness to provide resuscitation efforts at the limits of viability.