Newborn with severe epidermolysis bullosa: to treat or not to treat?
Epidermolysis bullosa (EB) is an inherited skin disease with four main subtypes that cannot be distinguished clinically at birth. All subtypes may present with widespread life-threatening blisters and fragile skin, making treatment and handling of the newborn with EB challenging. The prognosis of EB depends on the subtype, and therefore maximum treatment is necessary until the final diagnosis is known. In this case, it took 2 weeks before a final diagnosis was reached. In the meantime, we had several ethical discussions on the treatment level. The most important issues were management of pain and nutrition. For immediate pain relief, intranasal fentanyl worked best and gabapentin was successfully used for chronic pain. The feeding difficulties were handled first by a nasogastric feeding tube. Later a normal feeding bottle proved to be adequate.