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J Pediatr (Rio J). 2007 May;83(2 Suppl):S109-16.

End-of-life care in children: the Brazilian and the international perspectives.

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Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.



To analyze the medical practices and the end-of-life care provided to children admitted to pediatric intensive care units in different parts of the globe.


Articles on end-of-life care published during the last 20 years were selected from the PubMed, MEDLINE and LILACS databases, with emphasis on studies of death in pediatric intensive care units in Brazil, Latin America, Europe and North America, using the following keywords: death, bioethics, pediatric intensive care, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and life support limitation.


Publications on life support limitation (LSL) are concentrated in North America and Europe. In North American pediatric intensive care units there is a greater incidence of LSL (approximately 60%) than in Europe or Latin America (30-40%). These differences appear to be related to cultural, religious, legal and economic factors. Over the last decade, LSL in Brazilian pediatric intensive care units has increased from 6 to 40%, with do not resuscitate orders as the most common method. Also of note is the low level of family participation in the decision-making process. A recent resolution adopted by the Federal Medical Council (Conselho Federal de Medicina) regulated LSL in our country, demystifying a certain apprehension of a legal nature. The authors present a proposal for a protocol to be followed in these cases.


The adoption of LSL with children in the final phases of irreversible diseases has ethical, moral and legal support. In Brazil, these measures are still being adopted in a timid manner, demanding a change in behavior, especially in the involvement of families in the decision-making process.

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