When one considers the changes that have occurred in trends of perinatal mortality or the proportion of severe handicap in infants or adults in most Western countries in the past 20 years, there has been a profound change in the prognosis for life and for long-term sequelae after perinatal distress. The technical reasons for this extraordinary progress are straightforward. But it is much more difficult to Understand the profound effects on the quality of the lives that have come into being as a result of these advances. Indeed, it is hard to assess the precise consequences directly related to the new technology, as opposed to effects related to the long separation of mother and child after an abnormal birth and in pathologic states of the newborn.

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