The ethics of withholding/withdrawing nutrition in the newborn


The ethics of withholding/withdrawing nutrition in the newborn


Carter BS; Leuthner SR


Seminars In Perinatology




Humans; infant; Intensive Care Units; Emotions; Pediatric Assistants; Ethics; Medical; Neonatal; Non-U.S. Gov't; Research Support; Newborn; Premature; Multi-site Ethics; Diseases; Nutritional Support/ethics


The provision of nutrition and hydration to newborn infants is considered fundamental care. For premature and critically ill newborns, similar considerations generally hold true. Nutrition may be provided for these infants using assisted measures such as parenteral nutrition or tube feedings. However, for some newborn infants the provision of medically assisted nutrition may be a more complicated issue. In particular, the goals of nutrition need to be clearly elaborated for newborns with lethal conditions or for whom appropriately administered intensive care is unsuccessful in sustaining life. These infants may benefit from palliative measures of care and a limitation or withdrawal of burdensome or nonbeneficial interventions. This article explores issues pertinent to deciding and communicating the appropriate withdrawal of medically assisted nutrition and implementing palliative comfort measures.


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Carter BS; Leuthner SR, “The ethics of withholding/withdrawing nutrition in the newborn,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed April 20, 2024,