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J Paediatr Child Health. 2011 Sep;47(9):664-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.2011.02166.x.

The ethics of paediatric research.

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Children's Bioethics Centre, Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Centre for Health and Society, University of Melbourne, Parkville, New South Wales, Australia.


Paediatric research is essential for improving health outcomes of children. Waiting for adult studies before conducting paediatric studies will prolong the denial of effective treatment for children. If we rely on information from adult studies rather than conducting studies with children, we risk causing harm to children. In this paper, we identify and examine ethical issues unique to conducting research with children. These include the function and the value of a child's assent and the criteria that should guide a proxy in making decisions about a child's involvement in research, offering payment to children for research participation and acceptable levels of risk for paediatric research. Justice demands that children not be denied the benefits of research, and it is the role of the paediatric medical community to advocate not only for more research for children but also to ensure that the research conducted is of the highest quality.

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