Aim: To evaluate the outcome of a cohort of extremely low gestational age newborn infants (ELGAN) below 26-week gestation who were treated following a revised, gentle delivery room protocol to assist them in the transition and adaptation to extrauterine life.
Methods: A cohort of infants with a gestational age (GA) below 26 weeks (study group; n = 164) was treated according to a revised delivery room protocol. The protocol included an optimized prenatal management, strict use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), avoiding mechanical ventilation and early administration of surfactant without intubation. The parameters management of respiratory distress syndrome, survival, neonatal morbidity and neurodevelopmental outcome were compared with a historical control group (n = 44).
Results: Seventy-four per cent of the study group infants were initially treated with CPAP and surfactant administration without intubation. In comparison with the control group, significantly less children were intubated in the delivery room (24% vs. 41%) and needed mechanical ventilation (51% vs. 72%; both p < 0.05). Furthermore, compared with the historical control overall mortality (20% vs. 39%), rate of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (18% vs. 37%) and IVH > II° (10% vs. 33%) in survivors were significantly lower during the observational period (all p < 0.05). Neurodevelopmental outcome was normal in 70% of examined study group infants.
Conclusions: A revised delivery room management protocol was applied safely to infants with a GA below 26 completed weeks with improved rates of survival and morbidity.