Saving versus creating: implicit bias against newborns

Ethical principles of resuscitation should be applied uniformly to neonates, older children and adults. However, many health professionals are willing to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining therapy in newborns at high risk of disability (e.g., a baby born at 24 weeks gestation), but are unwilling to do so in older children with a similar risk of disability. This might be because in choosing to provide resuscitation or intensive care to the older child health professionals may feel that they are ‘saving’ the child, while with the newborn they may feel that they are ‘creating’ a disabled child. Therefore they may feel more moral culpability with the newborn. While most health professionals may be unaware of such implicit bias, such decision making is neither rational nor justified.

Saving vs creating. Janvier and Mercurio 2013