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Some Parents Consider Hastening a Sick Child's Death
Date:3/1/2010

eat need for end-of-life discussions to help make a horrible situation a little more bearable for the children and their families, whose greatest fear is often that their child will suffer.

A second study from the same journal explores some of the difficulties faced by parents of terminally ill children with cancer.

That survey found that, as a child's condition worsened, the loss of the child's ability to communicate was especially hard to bear. The survey involved 25 parents of 17 children who had died of brain tumors.

Parents also struggled with how to talk to their child about death and with balancing other responsibilities, such as jobs, finances and meeting the needs of other children. Parents who wanted to have their child die at home also faced barriers, including inadequate symptom control, financial and practical hardships and a lack of community support, the survey found.

To cope with their anger, stress and grief, parents reported striving to maintain as much normalcy as possible and finding strength in maintaining hope and in the resilience of the child.

"We hope this report will increase the awareness of health-care professionals concerning the challenges these families face and the need for anticipatory guidance and education of patients and families early in the course of illness," said the authors, from Children's Hospital, London Health Sciences Center, in Ontario, Canada.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more on children and cancer.



SOURCES: Joanne Wolfe, M.D., M.P.H., chief, pediatric palliative care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and director, palliative care, Children's Hospital Boston; John Lantos, M.D., director, pediatric bioethics, Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, and professor, pediatrics, University of Mi
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