Withholding hydration and nutrition in newborns

Nicolas F M Porta, Joel E Frader*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


In the twenty-first century, decisions to withhold or withdraw life-supporting measures commonly precede death in the neonatal intensive care unit without major ethical controversy. However, caregivers often feel much greater turmoil with regard to stopping medical hydration and nutrition than they do when considering discontinuation of mechanical ventilation or circulatory support. Nevertheless, forgoing medical fluids and food represents a morally acceptable option as part of a carefully developed palliative care plan considering the infant's prognosis and the burdens of continued treatment. Decisions to stop any form of life support should focus on the clinical circumstances, not the means used to sustain life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-451
Number of pages9
JournalTheoretical Medicine and Bioethics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2007


  • Ethics
  • Forgoing life support
  • Hydration
  • Neonatal intensive care
  • Newborns
  • Nutrition
  • Withholding food and water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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