Neonatal end-of-life care: a review of the research literature

J Perinat Neonatal Nurs. Jul-Sep 2006;20(3):262-73. doi: 10.1097/00005237-200607000-00015.


While advances in neonatal medicine have increased the possibility of sustaining life for many infants, more infants still die in the neonatal period (birth to 27 days of life) than those in any other time in childhood. Despite this statistic, there still remains much that is unknown about both the needs and the care of these critically ill babies. Palliative care is a viable option for many of these infants and their families. However, palliative care is rarely provided as an option for families. To provide healthcare providers with an overview of palliative and end-of-life care for infants in the neonatal period, we conducted an integrative review of the current research literature. A total of 10 articles were selected for the review. Findings from these studies were summarized in 1 of 4 categories: practices of withdrawing or withholding life-sustaining treatment, pain management during ventilator withdrawal, parents and the decision-making process, and the dying process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal
  • Pain / prevention & control
  • Palliative Care*
  • Parents
  • Professional-Family Relations
  • Terminal Care*
  • Withholding Treatment