Ethical issues in treatment of babies born at 22 weeks of gestation.
Many centres now report that more than half of babies born at 22 weeks survive and most survivors are neurocognitively intact. Still, many centres do not offer life-sustaining treatment to babies born this prematurely. Arguments for not offering active treatment reflect concerns about survival rates, rates of neurodevelopmental impairment and cost. In this essay, I examine each of these arguments and find them ethically problematic. I suggest that current data ought to lead to two changes. First, institutional culture should change at institutions that do not offer treatment to babies born at 22 weeks. Second, we need more research to understand best practices for these tiny babies.
Archives of disease in childhood
ethics; health care economics and organizations; neonatology; palliative care
Lantos JD. Ethical issues in treatment of babies born at 22 weeks of gestation. Arch Dis Child. 2021;106(12):1155-1157. doi:10.1136/archdischild-2020-320871