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Authors

  1. Cypher, Rebecca L. MSN, PNNP
  2. Foglia, Lisa M. MD

Abstract

One of the most complex clinical problems in obstetrics and neonatology is caring for pregnant women at the threshold of viability. Births near viability boundaries are grave events that carry a high prevalence of neonatal death or an increased potential for severe lifelong complications and disabilities among those who survive. Compared with several decades ago, premature infants receiving neonatal care by today's standards have better outcomes than those born in other eras. However, preterm labor at periviability represents a more complex counseling and management challenge. Although preterm birth incidence between 200/7 and 256/7 weeks has remained unchanged, survival rates at earlier gestational ages have increased as perinatal and neonatal specialties have become more adept at caring for this at-risk population. Women face difficult choices about obstetric and neonatal interventions in light of uncertainties around survival and outcomes. This article reviews current neonatal statistics in reference to short- and long-term outcomes, key concepts in obstetric clinical management of an anticipated periviable birth, and counseling guidance to ensure shared-decision making.