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Pediatrics. 2005 Sep;116(3):736-9.

End-of-life decisions in newborns: an approach from The Netherlands.

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Department of Pediatrics, Beatrix Children's Hospital, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.


End-of-life decisions in newborns with incurable conditions are especially difficult for pediatricians if they regard the group of stable infants with a hopeless prognosis, not dependent on technology. If a life full of severe and sustained suffering that cannot be relieved by any other means is expected, deliberate ending of life can be an acceptable choice in the Netherlands under very strict conditions. To increase the quality of the decision-making process and facilitate the mandatory reporting of life-ending procedures, a set of medical and legal guidelines (the Groningen protocol) was made in our institution in collaboration with the district attorney. This protocol serves as a tool to bring newborn euthanasia under a regime of effective control. This article describes the present approach to life-ending measures in newborns in the Netherlands and gives an overview of the protocol.

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