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Perinatal Palliative Care: ACOG COMMITTEE OPINION SUMMARY, Number 786

Journal title
Obstetrics and gynecology
Publication year

Perinatal palliative care refers to a coordinated care strategy that comprises options for obstetric and newborn care that include a focus on maximizing quality of life and comfort for newborns with a variety of conditions considered to be life-limiting in early infancy. With a dual focus on ameliorating suffering and honoring patient values, perinatal palliative care can be provided concurrently with life-prolonging treatment. The focus of this document, however, involves the provision of exclusively palliative care without intent to prolong life in the context of a life-limiting condition, otherwise known as perinatal palliative comfort care. Once a life-limiting diagnosis is suspected antenatally, the tenets of informed consent require that the pregnant patient be given information of sufficient depth and breadth to make an informed, voluntary choice for her care. Health care providers are encouraged to model effective, compassionate communication that respects patient cultural beliefs and values and to promote shared decision making with patients. Perinatal palliative comfort care is one of several options along a spectrum of care, which includes pregnancy termination (abortion) and full neonatal resuscitation and treatment, that should be presented to pregnant patients faced with pregnancies complicated by life-limiting fetal conditions. If a patient opts to pursue perinatal palliative comfort care, a multidisciplinary team should be identified with the infrastructure and support to administer this care. The perinatal palliative care team should prepare families for the possibility that there may be differences of opinion between family members before and after the delivery of the infant, and that there may be differences between parents and the neonatal care providers about appropriate postnatal therapies, especially if the postnatal diagnosis and prognosis differ substantially from antenatal predictions. Procedures for resolving such differences should be discussed with families ahead of time.

Research abstracts