WEDNESDAY, Oct. 15, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- A Web site meant to help parents understand medical research in children was launched recently by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The Children and Clinical Studies site explains why and how clinical studies in children are conducted, and outlines measures taken to protect participants' safety and privacy. The site also features videos of children, parents and health-care providers discussing the rewards and challenges of taking part in this kind of research.
"Clinical studies are essential to improving our understanding of how to diagnose, prevent and treat disease -- as well as how to stay healthy -- and this is true of children as well as adults," Dr. Elizabeth G. Nabel, director of the NIH's Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), said in a government news release.
"We hope this new resource will help parents and others learn more about how clinical studies are conducted in children, so they can make well-informed decisions about whether to enroll their child in a study," Nabel said.
"Children are not little adults -- their bodies and their brains are still developing," Dr. Renee R. Jenkins, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a professor in the department of pediatrics and child health at Howard University College of Medicine, said in the news release. "A good example of their unique research needs is understanding how medications affect the developing child and adolescent, and clinical trials are the best way to do that."
The Web site, developed by NHLBI in collaboration with New England Research Institutes and other groups, includes a list of questions for parents to ask researchers when deciding whether to enroll their child in a study. Other topics covered on the Web site include: how institutional review boards monitor studies for safety; important terms to know, such as informed consent and assent; the rights of families enrolled in clinical studies; and how a child's participation in a research study can affect the entire family.
"It's perfectly natural for parents to be concerned about the risks and benefits of enrolling their child in a research study," Dr. Gail Pearson, an NHLBI pediatric cardiologist who oversees the Pediatric Heart Network, said in the news release. "They should know that there is almost no other time in a child's life that they will have as many safeguards brought to bear on their well-being than when they are in a clinical trial."
Here's where you can find the Children and Clinical Studies Web site.