Valuing life and evaluating suffering in infants with life-limiting illness

Title

Valuing life and evaluating suffering in infants with life-limiting illness

Creator

Wilkinson D; Zayegh A

Publisher

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics

Date

2020

Subject

Quality of life; Withholding treatment; Cognition disorders; Infancy; Newborns; Value of life

Description

In this paper, we explore three separate questions that are relevant to assessing the prudential value of life in infants with severe life-limiting illness. First, what is the value or disvalue of a short life? Is it in the interests of a child to save her life if she will nevertheless die in infancy or very early childhood? Second, how does profound cognitive impairment affect the balance of positives and negatives in a child's future life? Third, if the life of a child with life-limiting illness is prolonged, how much suffering will she experience and can any of it be alleviated? Is there a risk that negative experiences for such a child (suffering) will remain despite the provision of palliative care? We argue that both the subjective and objective components of well-being for children could be greatly reduced if they are anticipated to have a short life that is affected by profound cognitive impairment. This does not mean that their overall well-being will be negative, but rather that there may be a higher risk of negative overall well-being if they are expected to experience pain, discomfort, or distress. Furthermore, we point to some of the practical limitations of therapies aimed at relieving suffering, such that there is a risk that suffering will go partially or completely unrelieved. Taken together, these considerations imply that some life-prolonging treatments are not in the best interests of infants with severe life-limiting illness.

Rights

Article information provided for research and reference use only. PedPalASCNET does not hold any rights over the resource listed here. All rights are retained by the journal listed under publisher and/or the creator(s).

Citation List Month

February 2021 List

Collection

Citation

Wilkinson D; Zayegh A, “Valuing life and evaluating suffering in infants with life-limiting illness,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed September 22, 2021, https://pedpalascnetlibrary.omeka.net/items/show/17433.

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