Clinical Practice Guidelines: Care Around Preterm Birth

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The NHMRC guidelines Clinical Practice Guidelines: Care around preterm birth, are a continuation of a series of clinical practice guidelines being developed in Australia. This document was first published in 1997 and has been reprinted in May 2000 with an additional Appendix (Appendix B) and a correction on p. 87. The primary objective of these and similar guidelines is to achieve better health outcomes by assisting health professionals to improve their practice, and by better informing general practitioners and consumers about treatment options.

These guidelines do not attempt to cover the entire range of issues around preterm birth. Rather they concentrate on issues of particular concern to practitioners and consumers especially where there is sufficient research evidence to guide health care decisions.

In situations where clinical considerations make it desirable to prolong pregnancy, the primary outcome considered is time gained in order to: seek advice from a perinatal centre; if necessary, move the mother to a centre with neonatal intensive care facilities; or institute therapy to improve fetal maturity.

However, the aim of care around preterm birth does not always involve prevention of preterm labour and birth. Diagnosis should exclude the possibility of fetal death or malformation or the possibility that prolonging the pregnancy may be more hazardous for mother and baby. Care in such situations could include termination of the pregnancy; provision of adequate support; treating the dead baby with dignity; and provision of adequate follow-up and counselling.

A companion booklet for parents has also been developed, Care around preterm birth: A guide for parents.

CORRECTION - p. 87 of the 1997 version of the document:

  • Table 10: Example of a salbutamol infusion regimen
    • Add one 5 mg ampoule salbutamol per 100ml normal saline (concentration 50 µg/mL)

This publication was rescinded on 31 December 2005.

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