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September 1988

Fetal Neglect as Child Abuse

Am J Dis Child. 1988;142(9):913-914. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1988.02150090011002

Sir.—I read with interest the article by Fleisher1 regarding wrongful births. While I certainly agree with looking into actions taken intentionally, such as drug use, I believe we should also be looking at actions that are intentionally not taken. As an example I present the case of a pregnant, 19-year-old mother who had an 8-month-old first child (the product of a 37-week gestation with preterm labor) and who was given tocolytics and intensive educational programs for the last five weeks of her first pregnancy. The mother chose not to receive prenatal care until approximately 22 weeks' gestation, even though she knew she was pregnant. At 23 weeks' gestation of her current pregnancy, she began having contractions at 8 am. She recognized the contractions for what they were, but did not seek advice from anyone until approximately 2 pm, when she was told to come to the hospital immediately.