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When Adult Medical Devices Fall Short for Kids

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Reporting for the Associated Press, Lauren Neergaard notes, "Children are not just miniature adults; their bodies are growing and changing," but unfortunately "many of the medical devices needed to treat sick children were built for adults." Neergaard's Nov. 2 article, "Move to Spur Pint-Sized Medical Devices to Treat Sick Kids," underscores the vital role philanthropy plays in meeting the specialized needs of children: "there's little financial incentive [for manufacturers] to create and test pint-sized devices because children overall are healthier than adults and make up a fraction of the treatment market."

The lack of medical devices developed specifically for children means that devices can be less comfortable and less effective, and "when adult devices haven't been formally studied in children, using them in youngsters can raise safety questions." To meet the needs for more pediatric medical devices, the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children's National hosts an annual grants competition to encourage better solutions for children.

Neergaard notes: "The industry acknowledges medical devices designed specifically for children often lag five years to 10 years behind new technology for adults, and Food and Drug Administration statistics illustrate the disparity. In 2013, eight of the 38 novel or higher-risk devices FDA approved were labeled for use by patients younger than 22. In 2014, six of 33 such device approvals were for pediatric use; so were two devices for rare disorders allowed to sell under a special fast-tracking program."

Dr. Vasum Peiris, the chief medical officer for pediatric devices for the Food and Drug Administration, says companies should be incentivized to create children-focused devices, because if something works for children's it's like to work for adults -- but the opposite is less often true. Read the article.


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