Advances in perinatal medicine have dramatically improved neonatal survival. End-of-life decision making for newborns with adverse prognosis is an ethical challenge, the ethical issues are controversial and little evidence exists on attitudes and values in Europe. Objective: to assess the attitudes of the neonatal departments in perinatal clinical practice in the hospitals of European countries. Methods: a questionnaire was send to 55 NICUs from 19 European countries Results: Forty five (81.8%) NICUs were Level III. Religion was Christian in 90.7% and we observed that in north countries the religion is more influent on clinical decisions (p = 0.032). Gestational age was considered with no significant difference for clinical investment. North countries consider birth weight (p = 0.011) and birth weight plus gestational age (p = 0.024) important for clinical investment. In north countries ethical questions should not prevail when the decision is made (p = 0.049) and from an ethical point of view, there is no difference between withdraw a treatment and do not initiate the treatment (p = 0.029). More hospitals in south countries administer any analgesia (p = 0.007). When the resuscitation is not successful 96.2% provide comfort care. Conclusion: Our study reveals that cultural and religious differences influenced ethical attitudes in NICUs of the European countries.

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The Journal of Maternal - Fetal & Neonatal Medicine
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Guimarães, H., Rocha, G., Almeda, F., Brites, M., van Goudoever, H., Iacoponi, F., … Buonocore, G. (2012). Ethics in neonatology: A look over Europe. The Journal of Maternal - Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, 25(7), 984–991. doi:10.3109/14767058.2011.602442