Should You Enroll Your Child in a Clinical Trial?

Children with chronic or life-threatening conditions are often asked to participate in clinical trials and help find new ways of treating their specific condition. If your child’s doctor has asked you for permission to enroll your child in a clinical trial, here are some considerations and ideas to help you make the decision.

What is a Clinical Trial?

Clinical trials are how drugs and treatments are tested for both safety and efficacy. Without trials, many of the lifesaving medicines that are now readily available wouldn’t exist. During a clinical trial, some of the participants are given the drug being tested while others are given a placebo. The patients are usually “blind” to whether they are receiving the drug or the placebo in order to keep their responses as true as possible.

Who is Considered for Clinical Trials?

Each trial has its own set of rules for who is to be considered including age, weight, and level of health at time of the trial. There are thousands of clinical trials going on at any given time and if your child fits the profile, the doctor will most likely ask you to enroll her. Or you can search for clinical trials on your own to see if there are any your child qualifies for and if you think the trial could benefit your child’s health.

What Questions to Ask

When your child’s doctor asks you to enroll your child in a clinical trial you should think it over carefully and ask questions. Ask why your doctor thinks your child is right for the trial. Find out what the benefits and risks are to your child. Who will monitor your child’s progress and what will happen when the trial ends? Will you be able to access the results of the trial? What stage of clinical trial is the drug in? Has it been tested for safety on children in your child’s age group already?

Weigh the Pros and Cons

After gathering all of the information you can, seriously weigh the pros and cons of enrolling your child. The health benefits of a drug that works can be a real draw to a clinical trial. On the other hand, if your child is taken off of medication that is already working just to try a drug that may not work, you may not want to venture down that path. Also consider your child’s desire to do the trial. Participating would mean more trips to the hospital and more testing to endure. Some children simply may not be up for it.

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About Nancy

I am a freelance writer focused on parenting children with special needs. My articles have been featured in numerous parenting publications and on I am the former editor and publisher of Vermont HomeStyle Magazine. I am a wife and mom to a two daughters, one with cystic fibrosis and one who is a carrier for cystic fibrosis.