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OBJECTIVES: To explore the effect of changes in national clinical recommendations in 2019 that extended provision of survival focused care to babies born at 22 weeks' gestation in England and Wales. DESIGN: Population based cohort study. SETTING: England and Wales, comprising routine data for births and hospital records. PARTICIPANTS: Babies alive at the onset of care in labour at 22 weeks+0 days to 22 weeks+6 days and at 23 weeks+0 days to 24 weeks+6 days for comparison purposes between 1 January 2018 and 31 December 2021. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Percentage of babies given survival focused care (active respiratory support after birth), admitted to neonatal care, and surviving to discharge in 2018-19 and 2020-21. RESULTS: For the 1001 babies alive at the onset of labour at 22 weeks' gestation, a threefold increase was noted in: survival focused care provision from 11.3% to 38.4% (risk ratio 3.41 (95% confidence interval 2.61 to 4.45)); admissions to neonatal units from 7.4% to 28.1% (3.77 (2.70 to 5.27)), and survival to discharge from neonatal care from 2.5% to 8.2% (3.29 (1.78 to 6.09)). More babies of lower birth weight and early gestational age received survival focused care in 2020-21 than 2018-19 (46% to 64% at <500g weight; 19% to 31% at 22 weeks+0 days to 22 weeks+3 days). CONCLUSIONS: A change in national guidance to recommend a risk based approach was associated with a threefold increase in 22 weeks' gestation babies receiving survival focused care. The number of babies being admitted to neonatal units and those surviving to discharge increased.

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Health services, Neonatology, Obstetrics