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J Perinatol. 2000 Sep;20(6):379-83.

Treatment decisions for newborns at the threshold of viability: an ethical dilemma.

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Department of Pediatrics, Harbor-University of California Los Angeles Medical Center, Torrance, USA.


The major ethical issues involved in decision-making in the care of extremely low birth weight newborns are analyzed here. We propose a schema for assessment and management of these infants that is consistent with ethical principles broadly accepted by the pediatric community, and which takes into account mortality risk at any given institution rather than arbitrary weight limits, with a major decision-making role for the infant's parents. When possible, the decision of whether or not to resuscitate should be made before delivery; when not possible, delivery room resuscitation is recommended, and the decision to continue or withdraw care should be made subsequently based on likelihood of survival and the wishes of the parents.

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