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Medical research into children’s illnesses lagging

A lack of research into children’s illnesses is hindering our understanding of childhood diseases


Health experts say more clinical research concerning children and young people is essential in order to move forward with the right treatments.

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics highlighted their concerns about the ethics involved and the fact that the starting point for most studies is among adults, meaning research into children is often left “lagging behind”.

The independent body conducted a two-year inquiry involving more than 500 professionals, youths and parents.

The report found that it can often be difficult for youngsters to take some medicines, as they find them unpalatable.

This results in doctors having to use their expertise to adapt adult doses, which have not been adapted specifically for children.

Dr Helen Sammons, a paediatrician and member of the council’s working party, said: “If we could actually get better ways for children to take the medicines it would really help with the day to day running of the children’s wards.”

“We need to have the evidence there and be absolutely sure that we’re doing the right thing for children and young people, and that’s where the research is key.”

Experts claim that further research may mean that more medicines, not currently available for children over-the-counter, could be in future.

Currently children aged 16 or over can give their own consent, with parents having to agree on their behalf if they are underage.

Dr Sammons added: “As soon as children are able to express their opinions or give their views we should respect them as individuals by listening to them.”

In the UK, less than 5 per cent of public and third-sector biomedical research funding is directed at children.

Experts say that less than 5 per cent of registered studies involve children and less than 5 per cent of neonatal medications have been evaluated in newborn populations.

Professor Neena Modi, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “This is an important report.

“Child health research is crucial because it generates evidence and only with good evidence can we safeguard the safety of patients receiving medical treatments and improve their outcomes.”

As a parent, you will always be looking out for your child’s every need in the early stages of childhood.

Many mums and dads will continue to remain concerned about their children’s well-being as they watch them grow up.

But, does there need to be a push for child health research to be a key priority for the NHS?

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