Pediatric drug research is gradually becoming more and more accepted as the norm for assessing whether a drug is safe and efficacious for infants and children. The process of informed consent and assent for these trials presents a major challenge. The aim of this review is to map historical, ethical and legal aspects relevant to the challenges of informed consent in the setting of pediatric drug research. The impact of age, level of maturity and life circumstances on the process of obtaining informed consent as well as the relations between consent and assent are discussed. There appears to be a lack of regulatory clarity in the area of pediatric clinical trials; while numerous statements have been made regarding children’s rights to autonomy and their ability to care for themselves and for younger ones, the ever changing status of adolescence is still difficult to translate to informed consent. This may delay scientific and clinical advancement for children who are at the very junction of being independent and not needing parental permission. Obtaining consent and assent for pediatric clinical trials is a delicate matter, as both parent and child need to agree to participate. The appropriate transfer of information to guardians and the children, especially concerning potential risks and benefits, is at the heart of informed consent, as it serves to protect both patient and physician. As many adults lack health literacy, one must ensure that guardians receive relevant information at a level and in forms they can understand regarding the trials their children are asked to participate in.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Pharmacology (medical)