Clinical research in children helps us to treat our children like children, rather than as little adults, in several ways:
- it uncovers the best dose of medicines to prevent harmful effects or under-treatment;
- it leads to the development of chewables, liquids, or tablets that are easier for children to take, yet still safe;
- it results in treatments for problems that occur only in children, like prematurity;
- it leads to treatments for diseases or conditions that occur in both children and adults but that act differently in children and adults, like arthritis or heart disease;
- it results in treatments for new or existing diseases that improve the health of children in the future, like vaccine studies that were done years ago and help children stay healthier today; and
- clinical research in children help us understand how medicines affect children’s brains and bodies as they grow and develop.
Stages of Growth
Children are growing. They are changing and maturing all the time. An 8-month-old is completely different from an 8-year-old, who is completely different from an 18-year-old, so even among children, everyone is different. And at each of the stages of growth below, children may need different doses of medicine, different sizes of devices, or different types of therapy.
For example, testing of one antibiotic showed that babies needed higher doses than older children to get rid of their infection. Many medicines are filtered out of the body and handled differently by a child’s developing liver or kidneys—and because there is limited research, we don’t know what the long-term effects on these organs may be. So, we need to conduct studies to find out.