The absence of children from much clinical research represents a knowledge gap that academics, funders and policymakers have a responsibility to close, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics has said.
Many medicines prescribed to children have not been developed specifically for that age group, so doctors must adapt adult doses.
In the report Children and Clinical Research: Ethical Issues, published on 14 May, the council also says that the 2006 EU Regulation on Paediatric Medicine, which requires that children are included in clinical trials of medicines, is not always effective. Although the leglisation has led to 132 medicines being licensed for children, a pharmaceutical company may be given a waiver if the condition for which it is developing a medicine does not affect children. The council says this means medicines that may be helpful for other conditions are not being tested in children.