Interventionist versus expectant care for severe pre-eclampsia before term
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BACKGROUND: Severe pre-eclampsia can cause significant mortality and morbidity for both mother and child, particularly when it occurs well before term. The only known cure for this disease is delivery. Some obstetricians advocate early delivery to prevent the development of serious maternal complications, such as eclampsia (fits) and kidney failure. Others prefer a more expectant approach in an attempt to delay delivery and, hopefully, reduce the mortality and morbidity for the child associated with being born too early. OBJECTIVES: The objective of the review was to compare the effects of a policy of interventionist care and early delivery with a policy of expectant care and delayed delivery for women with early onset severe pre-eclampsia. SEARCH STRATEGY: We search the register of trials maintained by the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group (April 2002) and the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register (The Cochrane Library, Issue 2, 2002). SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised trials comparing the two intervention strategies for women with early onset severe pre-eclampsia. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Trial quality was assessed using the criteria set out in the Cochrane Reviewers' Handbook. Data were extracted and checked independently by both reviewers. MAIN RESULTS: Two trials (133 women) are included in this review. There are insufficient data for reliable conclusions about the comparative effects on outcome for the mother. For the baby, there is insufficient evidence for reliable conclusions about the effects on stillbirth or death after delivery (relative risk (RR) 1.50, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.42 to 5.41). Babies whose mothers had been allocated to the interventionist group had more hyaline membrane disease (RR 2.3, 95% CI 1.39 to 3.81), more necrotising enterocolitis (RR 5.5, 95% CI 1.04 to 29.56) and were more likely to need admission to neonatal intensive care (RR 1.32, 95% CI 1.13 to 1.55) than those allocated an expectant policy. Nevertheless, babies allocated to the interventionist policy were less likely to be small for gestational age (RR 0.36, 95% CI 0.14 to 0.90). There were no statistically significant differences between the two strategies for any other outcomes. REVIEWER'S CONCLUSIONS: There are insufficient data for any reliable recommendation about which policy of care should be used for women with severe early onset pre-eclampsia. Further large trials are needed.
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