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June 1987

Guidelines for the Determination of Brain Death in Children: Task Force for the Determination of Brain Death in Children

Arch Neurol. 1987;44(6):587-588. doi:10.1001/archneur.1987.00520180011007

Most states now have laws on brain death, and the American Medical Association, the American Bar Association, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, the President's Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and Biomedical and Behavioral Research, and our task force have endorsed the following language regarding the determination of death:

An individual who has sustained either (1) irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions, or (2) irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem, is dead. A determination of death must be made in accordance with accepted medical standards.

No unique legal issues in determining brain death exist for children compared with adults. The unique issues are medical and relate directly to the more difficult task of confirming brain death in young children.

Current criteria of brain death avoid application of these standards to "young children." The report of

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