Medical Practice

Infants, Children, and Informed Consent

Br Med J 1974; 3 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.3.5926.334 (Published 03 August 1974) Cite this as: Br Med J 1974;3:334
  1. A. G. M. Campbell

    Abstract

    Obtaining informed consent for non-therapeutic experimentation on infants and children has ethical and legal implications that cause great controversy. There is some danger that worthy research will be inhibited if current ethical codes are interpreted too strictly, yet infants, children, and other vulnerable groups clearly must be protected from exploitation as research subjects. It is suggested that permission from parents coupled with integrity of the investigator will remain the child's best protection, but several additional protective mechanisms are available and should be used. Some guidelines for non-therapeutic research are suggested which should not only provide adequate protection for infants and young children involved in research projects, but allow investigators reasonable freedom to prosecute worthy research vital to continued improvements in child care.

    Footnotes

    • * Based on an inaugural lecture given at the University of Aberdeen, 31 January, 1974.

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