Improving uptake of perinatal autopsy

Apr 01, 2021 | Lewis

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Uptake of perinatal autopsy has declined in the West over the past 30 years, largely because of reduced parental acceptance of a traditional invasive autopsy. Several studies have recently investigated the decline to identify the key factors and how they may be mitigated.

RECENT FINDINGS: Three main themes were identified that have been found to improve uptake of perinatal autopsy: improved communication, in particular ensuring the consent process was conducted as a conversation with time spent talking through the procedure and allowing time for questions; health professional training to ensure staff discussing autopsy with parents have adequate understanding of the procedure and are able to convey confidence and empathy; and availability of less invasive autopsy, including noninvasive as well as minimally invasive options. These should be offered alongside standard autopsy, which some parents may still prefer.

SUMMARY: This review highlights that the discussions that take place, and the options that are available to parents, can profoundly impact whether or not they consent to autopsy investigation. Further research should focus on the impact of offering less invasive options as well as evaluating the training and support materials that have recently been developed.

PubMed Abstract

Lewis, C., Simcock, I. C., & Arthurs, O. J. (2021). Improving uptake of perinatal autopsy. Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol, 33(2), 129-134. doi:10.1097/gco.0000000000000691