Objective: Our main objective was to examine if parental prenatal preferences predict delivery-room management of extremely preterm periviable infants. The secondary objectives were to describe parental involvement and the content of prenatal counseling given to parents for this prenatal decision.
Design: Prospective study of neonates liveborn between 22 and 26 weeks of gestation in France in 2011 among the neonates included in the EPIPAGE-2 study.
Setting: 18 centers participating in the "Extreme Prematurity Group" substudy of the EPIPAGE-2 study.
Patients: 302 neonates liveborn between 22-26 weeks among which 113 with known parental preferences while parental preferences were unknown or unavailable for 186 and delivery room management was missing for 3.
Results: Data on prenatal counseling and parental preferences were collected by a questionnaire completed by professionals who cared for the baby at birth; delivery room (DR) management, classified as stabilization or initiation of resuscitation (SIR) vs comfort care (CC). The 113 neonates studied had a mean (SD) gestational age of 24 (0.1) weeks. Parents of neonates in the CC group preferred SIR less frequently than those with neonates in the SIR group (16% vs 88%, p < .001). After multivariate analysis, preference for SIR was an independent factor associated with this management. Professionals qualified decisions as shared (81%), exclusively medical (16%) or parental (3%). Information was described as medical with no personal opinion (71%), complete (75%) and generally pessimistic (54%).
Conclusion: Parental involvement in prenatal decision-making did not reach satisfying rates in the studied setting. When available, prenatal parental preference was a determining factor for DR management of extremely preterm neonates. Potential biases in the content of prenatal counselling given to parents need to be evaluated.