The Role of Perinatal Palliative Care in Fetal Neurology.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

OBJECTIVES:  Many serious or life-threatening neurologic conditions are first diagnosed during the fetal period, often following a routine ultrasound or sonographic evaluation after an abnormal aneuploidy screen. Such conditions represent a worrisome or unexpected finding for expectant parents, making the perinatal period a critical time point to engage and empower families encountering complex neurologic clinical scenarios. This review covers the role of perinatal palliative care in these settings. STUDY DESIGN:  Topical review RESULTS::  The prenatal identification of structural abnormalities of the brain or spinal cord, radiographic signs of hemorrhage or ischemic injury, or evidence of genetic or metabolic conditions should prompt involvement of a fetal palliative care team. The inherent prognostic uncertainty is challenging for prenatally diagnosed neurologic conditions which have difficult to predict short and long-term outcomes. While many of these conditions lead to the birth of an infant with neurodevelopmental challenges, few result in in utero demise. Palliative care beginning in the perinatal period provides an additional layer of support for families navigating complex decision-making during their pregnancy and provides continuity of care into the newborn period. Palliative care principles can help guide discussions around genetic and other diagnostic testing, fetal surgery, and birth planning. A multidisciplinary team can help support families with decision-making and through bereavement care in the setting of fetal or neonatal death. CONCLUSION:  Early palliative care team involvement can provide a more holistic approach to counseling, facilitate planning, and ensure that a family's goals and wishes are acknowledged throughout an infant's care trajectory. KEY POINTS: · Many serious or life-threatening neurologic conditions are diagnosed during the fetal period.. · Palliative care principles should be incorporated in the fetal period for affected patients.. · Palliative care clinicians can aid parents and clinicians in shared decision-making.. · Palliative care principles should be employed by all care providers in relevant cases..

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Rent, S; Lemmon, ME; Ellestad, S; Bidegain, M

Published Date

  • December 2, 2021

Published In

PubMed ID

  • 34710944

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC9619414

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1098-8785

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1055/a-1682-2798


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States