Borderline viability: controversies in caring for the extremely premature infant

Clin Perinatol. 2014 Dec;41(4):799-814. doi: 10.1016/j.clp.2014.08.005. Epub 2014 Sep 30.


Controversy surrounding the decision to resuscitate at the limits or borderline of viability has been at the center of neonatal ethical debate for decades. This debate has led to numerous reports from individual institutions, councils, and advisory committees that all have remarkable consistency in the development of gestational age-based guidelines. This article reviews legal or regulatory concerns that may contradict ethical discussion and guidelines, discriminatory and scientific basis concerns with consensus guidelines, and personal controversy about how to determine best interest. Guidelines are a reasonable place to start in helping determine parental authority and autonomy. The article also addresses controversies raised in counseling and costs.

Keywords: Decision-making; Ethics; Extreme prematurity; Periviable; Viability.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making*
  • Fetal Viability*
  • Gestational Age*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Extremely Premature
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care, Neonatal / ethics
  • Intensive Care, Neonatal / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Intensive Care, Neonatal / standards*
  • Parents*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic