From Brussels Sprouts to Medicines: Helping Kids Be Healthy

From Brussels Sprouts to Medicines: Helping Kids Be Healthy

03.14.12 | By Kate Connors

Along with this year's must-pass reauthorization of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, it is also time to reauthorize the Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act (BPCA) and Pediatric Research Equity Act (PREA), which are intended to increase research conducted about use of medicines in children. We hope that Congress will permanently reauthorize this legislation, which will provide the certainty needed to encourage companies to embark on years-long pediatric studies.

Why is this important? First, children are not small adults. For example, their bodies may metabolize medicines differently, or they may benefit from different administration of medicines. And, second, children deserve to get the best care possible, and a lack of understanding of the use of some drugs in children may complicate that.

Two different articles this week are somewhat related to these points. And though they don't have any direct connection to BPCA, PREA or pediatric research in general, they both caught my eye and, I thought, add something to the dialogue.

First, The New York Times's Well blog had a post by a physician, Perri Klass, MD, who opines that, clinically, the careful and attentive care that children receive is something that should be provided to adult patients, too, such as the presence of a loved one in recovery post surgery, or an effort to use smaller needles. An interesting idea - as we're working hard to make sure that children can benefit from medical research in the same way that adults do, Klass observes that in terms of clinical care, perhaps children are treated in more caring way.

Second, on POPSCI (the blog for Popular Science magazine), how about this for a testament to how children are different from adults: the reason why children don't like bitter foods such as Brussels sprouts is because their bodies are trained to prefer sweet food, since sweeter foods tend to be safer to eat, and more bitter foods tend to be poisons. It's an old evolutionary trait from our hunting and gathering days, and not medical in nature, of course, but if children's taste buds are different, imagine what the rest of their bodies are like.

Follow Kate on Twitter @KateAtPhRMA.

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