Health Watch -- Testing Drugs for Children

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Does medicine work the same way on children as it does for adults?

When medications are developed and tested, they're most often tested on adults. Unfortunately, that means that doctors don't know exactly how the drugs will work on children. Doctors prescribe smaller doses to correspond with a child's smaller body size, but even so, drugs may not work in quite the same way.

That's why doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas are establishing a pediatric pharmacology research center at Children's Medical Center of Dallas, a teaching hospital associated with UT Southwestern. The center will focus on studying how children react to drugs.

Dr. Hasan Jafri, a UT Southwestern pediatrician, says this is important because children aren't just tiny adults. They process drugs in a different way, and medications may have very different effects.

The new center will be part of a network of centers across the nation, funded by the National Institutes of Health. Doctors at all of these centers will work together and share information. It's difficult to conduct research involving children, so the network of research centers will make it easier to obtain information.

One of the new center's first projects will be testing the effectiveness of an antifungal medication that usually isn't given to children. Doctors will also evaluate antibiotic doses to make sure that children are receiving the most appropriate amounts of the drugs.

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March 2004

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