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Decision Making by Parents and Pediatricians

Am J Dis Child. 1984;138(6):607. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1984.02140440091027.
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Sir.—Many years ago I was called to see a male newborn with Down's syndrome and duodenal atresia. The pediatrician and I met with the infant's parents; the father happened to be a clergyman. We explained that an operation would easily correct the duodenal obstruction. We also assured the mother and father that no one could predict the degree of mental retardation, which might be severe or very mild. Consent was given, the operation was successfully performed, and the patient is now 20 years of age. Happily, he is minimally retarded, completely cares for himself, and does all of the gardening for his father's church. The gardens are a true show-place. For reasons unknown, these parents have been unable to have any more children, and this young man is the light of their lives.

These complicated, difficult, and often heart-wrenching decisions should be made by the parents and the pediatrician.


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