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The Role of Healthy Children at the NIH Clinical Center
Researchers want to find ways to help children live longer, healthier lives. In addition to children who have a particular disease, researchers often need help from healthy children—those who do not currently have the disease or illness being studied. Healthy children provide researchers with crucial data because their health information can be used as a comparison. In this way, researchers can learn more about a disease such as the way it progresses, how to treat it, and appropriate dosages for treatment. There are many different ways that children can help, depending on what research the doctors are conducting. As a parent, you can talk to your child and decide whether joining a clinical trial at the NIH Clinical Center is right for them.
Consider joining us in our effort by learning more about clinical trials for healthy children at the NIH Clinical Center. This website provides several resources to help determine if volunteering in a clinical trial is right for your child. For more specific information on the role of children in clinical research, visit the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Children & Clinical Studies website at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/childrenandclinicalstudies.
How Children Can Help Advance Medical Knowledge
Children participate in clinical research for many reasons—some to help themselves, some to help others, and some just want to be involved in engaging and exciting new research. Regardless of their primary reason for joining clinical trials, the result is clear—by participating in clinical research, children can help:
- Learn more about diseases and ways to prevent them
- Find out how research is conducted with children as Healthy Volunteers
- Understand the differences in children as they grow
- Help others—young and old—in the future
- Enhance their lives and become healthier adults
Research volunteers become partners in a special relationship with members of the research team who are searching for better ways to understand and treat diseases.
Their participation is critical for improving health today and in future generations.
Potential Benefits, Risks & Safety
It is important to understand that clinical research is different than medical treatment. Unlike the medical treatment your child might receive from their doctor or a hospital, clinical research is conducted to gain information about a disease, condition, drug or treatment that may benefit children in the future. However, by participating in clinical research, your child might receive benefits such as:
- Helping future generations
- Having access to exciting new research
- Gaining information about a disease or illness
The possibility of risk exist in any research study. The specific risks associated with a clinical trial are described in detail in the consent/assent document, which you and your child will sign before taking part in research.
There are many safety measures in place to protect volunteers involved in clinical research, with special protections for children. If you and your child decide that you are interested in taking part in a clinical trial, there is a consent process that you both will be part of that includes discussions with various members of the scientific community concerning specifics of the trial and potential benefits and risks.