Expectant management of severe preterm preeclampsia: is intrauterine growth restriction an indication for immediate delivery?

M F Chammas, T M Nguyen, M A Li, B S Nuwayhid, L C Castro
American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2000, 183 (4): 853-8

OBJECTIVE: Expectant management of severe preterm preeclampsia is gaining widespread acceptance in clinical practice. The objective of our study was 2-fold-to determine the frequency of fetal deterioration with expectant management of severe preterm preeclampsia and to evaluate whether the presence of intrauterine growth restriction on admission is associated with a shorter admission-to-delivery interval or more deliveries resulting from nonreassuring fetal status in comparison with pregnancies with preeclampsia but without intrauterine growth restriction.

STUDY DESIGN: This was an observational study of women with singleton pregnancies at <34 completed weeks' gestation who were admitted to the hospital with the diagnosis of severe preeclampsia and managed expectantly. Fetal status on admission, admission-to-delivery interval, indication for delivery, and neonatal outcome were examined.

RESULTS: Forty-seven women were studied during a 3-year period (1996-1999). Gestational age at admission was 29.8 +/- 2.6 weeks. The mean admission-to-delivery interval for the entire group was 6.0 +/- 5.1 days; in 42.5% delivery was for fetal indications. In comparison with the absence of intrauterine growth restriction, the presence of intrauterine growth restriction at admission resulted in a significantly shorter admission-to-delivery interval (3.1 +/- 2.1 vs 6.6 +/- 6.1 days; P <.05). Most fetuses with intrauterine growth restriction (85.7%) were delivered before 1 week. Although 57% of fetuses with intrauterine growth restriction were delivered for fetal indications, versus 39% of fetuses without intrauterine growth restriction, these rates were not found to be significantly different. Neonatal outcomes, as reflected by Apgar scores, number of admissions to and duration of stay in the neonatal intensive care unit, and neonatal mortality rates, were similar.

CONCLUSION: Pregnancies complicated by severe preterm preeclampsia and the presence of intrauterine growth restriction at admission may not benefit from expectant management beyond the 48 hours needed for betamethasone to act. Furthermore, all patients may benefit from close fetal monitoring before delivery because of the high rate of intervention for deteriorating fetal status.

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