A disturbing study was published about how long it takes for a baby to die when deprived of medically provided food and water. From the study (may need to register, my links to the conditions mentioned):
Neonatal survival after withdrawal of artificial hydration and nutrition can last up to 26 days, according to a case series presented here at the 18th International Congress on Palliative Care. Although physical distress is not apparent in the infants, the psychological distress of parents and clinicians builds with the length of survival, said Hal Siden, MD, from Canuck Place Children’s Hospice in Vancouver, British Columbia.
“These babies live much, much longer than anybody expects. I think that neonatologists and nurses and palliative care clinicians need to be alerted to this,” he said. “The time between withdrawal of feeding and end of life is something that is not predictable, and you need to be cautioned very strongly about that if you are going to do this work.” He presented a series of 5 cases that clinicians at his hospice had overseen over a 5-year period. Two infants had severe neurologic impairment, 2 had severe hypoxic ischemia, and 1 had severe bowel atresia.
Removing tube supplied food and water is legal–and deemed ethical by many bioethicists–just like stopping any other medical treatment such as antibiotics, chemotherapy, kidney dialysis, or respiratory therapy. Such dehydration–think Terri Schiavo– is carried out upon profoundly disabled and dying people of all ages in all fifty states.