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October 5, 2009

Death in the Netherlands: Evidence and Argument

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2009;163(10):958-959. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2009.197

In this issue of Archives, Verhagen et al1 provide thorough and thought-provoking insight into end-of-life decision making for newborns in the Netherlands. The authors retrospectively reviewed the case histories of 98% of all infants who died in the 10 tertiary Dutch neonatal units during a 1-year period. They interviewed pediatricians involved in all cases in which end-of-life decisions appeared to be influenced by considerations other than straightforward futility. The results of the study have some relevance for debates about Dutch end-of-life practices, particularly the controversial protocol for active euthanasia in newborns, the Groningen Protocol.2,3

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