Perinatal management of trisomy 18: a survey of obstetricians in Australia, New Zealand and the UK.
Wilkinson DJC., de Crespigny L., Lees C., Savulescu J., Thiele P., Tran T., Watkins A.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to explore the attitudes of obstetricians in Australia, New Zealand and the UK towards prenatally diagnosed trisomy 18 (T18). METHOD: Obstetricians were contacted by email and invited to participate in an anonymous electronic survey. RESULTS: Survey responses were obtained from 1018/3717 (27%) practicing obstetricians/gynaecologists. Most (60%) had managed a case of T18 in the last 2 years. Eighty-five per cent believed that T18 was a 'lethal malformation', although 38% expected at least half of liveborn infants to survive for more than 1 week. Twenty-one per cent indicated that a vegetative existence was the best developmental outcome for surviving children. In a case of antenatally diagnosed T18, 95% of obstetricians would provide a mother with the option of termination. If requested, 99% would provide maternal-focused obstetric care (aimed at maternal wellbeing rather than fetal survival), whereas 80% would provide fetal-oriented obstetric care (to maximise fetal survival). Twenty-eight per cent would never discuss the option of caesarean; 21% would always discuss this option. Management options, attitudes and knowledge of T18 were associated with location, practice type, gender and religion of obstetricians. CONCLUSION: There is variability in obstetricians' attitudes towards T18, with significant implications for management of affected pregnancies.