Van Rensselaer Potter was an American biochemist who worked in the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. In 1970, in an article in this journal, Potter coined the term bioethics to combine a new discipline that combines biological knowledge with ethics. Potter wrote, “Ethical values cannot be separated from biological facts” (p. 127). His conception was broad-ranging: “We are in great need of a land ethic, a wild-life ethic, a population ethic, a consumption ethic, (...) an urban ethic, an international ethic, a geriatric ethic, and so on. All of these problems call for actions that are based on values and biological facts. All of them involve bioethics, and survival of the .. (shrink)
Virtually every infant in the United States (U.S.) undergoes a heel stick within the first week of life to test for a variety of metabolic, endocrine, and hematological conditions as part of state-run universal newborn screening (NBS) programs. In the U.S., NBS began in the 1960s for phenylketonuria (PKU), a metabolic condition that causes intellectual disability if left untreated. I review the history of how NBS came to be a mandatory public health program that did not require parental consent1 and (...) examine whether the policy was morally justifiable. I then examine how three changes to NBS programs are prompting a re-evaluation of the mandatory nature of NBS. The three changes are: (1) the implementation of .. (shrink)
Lainie Ross presents a rigorous critical investigation of the development of policy governing the involvement of children in medical research. She examines the shift in focus from protection of medical research subjects, enshrined in post-World War II legislation, to the current era in which access is assuming greater precedence. Infamous studies such as Willowbrook (where mentally retarded children were infected with hepatitis) are evidence that before the policy shift protection was not always adequate, even for the most vulnerable groups. Additional (...) safeguards for children were first implemented in many countries in the 1970s and 1980s; more recent policies and guidelines are trying to promote greater participation. Ross considers whether the safeguards work, whether they are fair, and how they apply in actual research practice. She goes on to offer specific recommendations to modify current policies and guidelines. Ross examines the regulatory structures (e.g. federal regulations and institutional review boards), the ad hoc policies (e.g. payment in pediatric research and the role of schools as research venues), the actual practices of researchers (e.g. the race/ethnicity of enrolled research subjects or the decision to enroll newborns) as well as the decision-making process (both parental permission and the child's assent), in order to provide a broad critique. Some of her recommendations will break down current barriers to the enrolment of children (e.g. permitting the payment of child research subjects; allowing healthy children to be exposed to research that entails more than minimal risk without requiring recourse to 407 panels); whereas other recommendations may create new restrictions (e.g., the need for greater protection for research performed in schools; restrictions on what research should be done in the newborn nursery). The goal is to ensure that medical research is done in a way that promotes the health of current and future children without threatening, to use the words of Hans Jonas, 'the erosion of those moral values whose loss . . . would make its most dazzling triumphs not worth having'. (shrink)
: The past decade has witnessed the emergence of novel methods to increase the number of living donors. Although such programs are not likely to yield high volumes of organs, some transplant centers have gone to great lengths to establish one or more of them. I discuss some of the ethical and policy issues raised by five such programs: (1) living-paired and cascade exchanges; (2) unbalanced living-paired exchanges; (3) list-paired exchanges; (4) nondirected donors; and (5) nondirected donors catalyzing cascade exchanges. (...) I argue that living-paired and cascade exchanges are ethically sound, but will lead to only a few additional transplants. Unbalanced exchanges and list-paired exchanges raise ethical issues that should limit their permissibility. Nondirected donations can be ethically sound with adherence to strict eligibility criteria and fair allocation procedures. Nondirected donors catalyzing cascade exchanges can be ethically sound provided that individuals with blood types O and B are not made worse off. (shrink)
: Subpart D of 45 CFR 46 focuses on research involving children. Section 46.407 addresses research that is not otherwise approvable. The research is not otherwise approvable because either (1) it seeks to enroll healthy children, but offers no prospect of direct benefit and entails more than minimal risk; or (2) it seeks to enroll children with a disorder or condition, but offers no prospect of direct benefit and entails more than a minor increase over minimal risk. According to 46.407, (...) such research can be permissible if it is approved by a panel of experts. Prior to 2000, only two 407 panels had been convened, but in 2001, the Office for Human Research Protections received more than 20 protocols for 407 review. The first, entitled "Precursors to Diabetes in Japanese American Youth," serves here as a case study in human subject protections. (shrink)
This overview describes the breadth of topicscovered in this volume devoted to children inresearch. It summarizes how these articles areinterrelated and how they all respond to thechallenge proposed by the Children's Health Actof 2000: to consider what modifications, ifany, are necessary to current regulations ``toensure the adequate and appropriate protectionof children participating in research.''.
There are approximately one million cases oftype 1 diabetes in the US, and the incidenceis increasing worldwide. Given that two-thirdsof cases present in childhood, it is criticalthat prediction and prevention research involvechildren. In this article, I examine whethercurrent research methodologies conform to theethical guidelines enumerated by the NationalCommission for the Protection of Human Subjectsof Biomedical and Behavioral Research, andadopted into the federal regulations thatprotect research subjects. I then offer twopolicy recommendations to help researchersdesign studies that conform to these ethicalrequirements.
: There is a general consensus in the medical and medical ethics communities against predictive genetic testing of children for late onset conditions, but minimal consideration is given to predictive testing of asymptomatic children for disorders that present later in childhood when presymptomatic treatment cannot influence the course of the disease. In this paper, I examine the question of whether it is ethical to perform predictive testing and screening of newborns and young children for conditions that present later in childhood. (...) I consider the risks and benefits of (1) predictive testing of children from high-risk families; (2) predictive population screening for conditions that are untreatable; and (3) predictive population screening for conditions in which the efficacy of presymptomatic treatment is equivocal. I conclude in favor of parental discretion for predictive genetic testing, but against state-sponsored predictive screening for conditions that do not fulfill public health screening criteria. (shrink)