Children as subjects in medical research

Children under the age of 16 can also participate in medical research, but only if the research project meets very strict requirements. For example, there are stricter limits on the risks that subjects under the age of 16 can be exposed to. There are also specific rules about giving consent. 

When a child takes part in medical research, both parents or the child’s guardian must sign the consent form. A child aged 12 to 15 must also sign the consent form. Without a signed consent form, the child cannot participate.

Withdrawing from a medical research project

Children have the right to stop participating in a medical research project at any time. A child or the parents can decide to stop even after the research project has already started and they don’t have to say why.

If a child displays resistive behaviour during the research project – for example he or she is very anxious, distressed or angry – then the child may no longer take part. Before the research begins, the researcher will discuss with the parents what is regarded as resistive behaviour.