imilarly to older adults, children are a unique population with different physiological and developmental needs than adults. Children are effected by diseases and medicines in unique ways, which in turn means that the effectiveness of specific drugs should be measured independently.

It is important to perform clinical trials in children because scientists need to determine how different treatments, medications, and devices work on these populations.

Clinical Trial Guide for Parents and Children

Clinical research studies in children are what have helped develop child-appropriate medications and figure out which doses are the safest for each age group.

Sometimes when a child is suffering from a medical condition the doctor might ask the parents to consider enrolling him or her in a clinical trial to become part of a group of patients that are testing of a new drug or treatment.

What is a Clinical Trial?

Clinical trials are a type of research study designed to test the effectiveness of a new drug or treatment. Clinical trials are meticulously designed, planned, and carried out by scientists and other experts. These trials are carefully monitored by internal and external agencies in order to maintain the highest standards possible and to ensure the safety and comfort of its participants. Before a clinical trial even begins, it needs to be approved by the FDA and by an Internal Review Board that makes sure no part of the study poses a more than minimal risk for its participants and that the proposed research is clinically necessary and relevant.

External Link: For Parents and Children

All research studies are completely voluntary, meaning that the choice of participating in a clinical trial is completely up to the individual or legal guardian of the individual. This also means that any person has the right and freedom to withdraw their consent at any point in time. Withdrawing consent during the research study will not yield any physical or monetary consequences, nor will it affect their ability to receive adequate medical care.

If a parent agrees to enroll their child in a research study they must sign an informed consent document, which will outline all relevant information about the study as well as all the potential risks and benefits this trial might pose to the participant.

It is important to note that by the time a drug has reached advanced stages of the clinical research, it has generally been extensively tested on animals and sometimes even on healthy individuals to assess its potential toxicity, bioavailability, and general safety.

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What Happens During a Clinical Trial?

Clinical Trial Guide for Parents and Children

All clinical trials are different and they depend on what the researchers are investigating. Most clinical trials are carried out in a hospital setting and all of them are performed under strict supervision.

One of the most common designs for a research study is called a randomized controlled trial (RCT). During an RCT the child will be randomly assigned into a treatment group or a placebo group, and participants will not know which group they were assigned to until the end of the study. This type of study is only carried out when participants are healthy enough to withstand a short amount of time without treatment. Regardless of the group they were assigned to, all participants will receive the necessary medical treatment after the study ends.

External Link: Is a Clinical Trial Right for Your Child?

What Are the Benefits of Enrolling My Child in a Clinical Trial?

Children clinical trials are very important to determine the safety and effectiveness of different medications and treatments for kids. Without clinical trials, doctors can only guess what is the appropriate dose for a child, so research studies are extremely important for taking the guesswork out of the clinical practice.

External Link: Why PTN Research Matters and Patient Safeguards in PTN Research

Scientist and pharmaceutical companies only carry out a research study when they have sufficient scientific knowledge to believe that a medication might actually be beneficial, so although it is never a guarantee, it is possible that the child has the opportunity to receive a potentially beneficial treatment even before it’s widely available.

What Are the Risks of Enrolling My Child in a Clinical Trial?

It is important to remember that a clinical trial is, after all, a trial; so parents should be prepared for the possibility of the treatment not working at all. Another potential risk is side effects; when a medication is being tested it is possible for some side effects to come up that were not present in previous phases of the study. To ensure that participants are safe, doctors and investigators monitor the effects of the treatment very closely by performing constant tests and assessments.