The ethics of withholding and withdrawing dialysis therapy in infants

Pediatr Nephrol. 2000 Apr;14(4):347-51. doi: 10.1007/s004670050773.


Pediatric nephrologists may encounter infants with renal failure who have either unexpectedly survived lung hypoplasia at birth or whose renal failure could be treated but comorbid conditions exist. As a member of the health care team, the pediatric nephrologist may be asked to guide therapeutic intervention with parents, family members, and other care-givers. We present a case study that illustrates some of the difficulties that may arise when conflicting social and economic pressures, as well as public opinion and legal authority, enter the decision-making process. Clinical, theoretical, legal, and economic considerations involved in the ethical decision process are presented. Some tentative guidelines for approaching such dilemmas are offered bearing in mind a goal of consensual decision making.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Ethics, Medical*
  • Euthanasia, Passive* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Renal Replacement Therapy*