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Semin Perinatol. 1998 Jun;22(3):198-206.

Ethical dilemmas in the delivery room.

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Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, CA, USA.


The decision to withhold or withdraw life support in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is common but is never routine. Often, moral demands make such decisions difficult and emotionally exhausting. But, what is perhaps more challenging from the moral point of view is the transition from the delivery room to the NICU. A satisfactory analysis of the moral issues of delivery room practices must include a discussion of quality of life, the best interest of the infant, the best interests of the family members, and futile treatment. Although these topics are relevant in any discussion of the moral justification of the omission, withdrawal, or use of treatment for patients, they are especially telling when entertained in the context of the transition of the fetus to a newborn. This article uses these four topics as a moral compass for certain decisions made in the delivery room.

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