Background/Purpose: The Declaration of Helsinki requires Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval for experimental studies on human subjects. The authors questioned whether published prospective surgical experimental studies document IRB approval for infants and children. Methods: Prospective studies were identified in 5 surgical and 2 major pediatric journals from 1997 through 1999. Documentation of IRB approval was recorded. Results were analyzed using Pearson X2 tests and a multivariate regression model. Statistical significance was defined as P less than .05. Results: A total of 149 prospective experimental studies on pediatric subjects were evaluated; the majority being interventional or therapeutic studies (105 of 149). More than 75% were from academic medical centers (125 of 149), grant-supported (110 of 149), and appeared in surgical journals (110 of 149). Slightly less than 25% of studies (40 of 149) documented IRB approval. Observational studies, grant support, and publication in nonsurgical journals all correlated positively with IRB approval and were statistically significant variables (P < .001, P < .001, P < .001, respectively). Interventional or therapeutic, institutionally or privately-funded studies found in surgical journals were most likely to avoid IRB documentation (P < .001). Conclusions: The majority of prospective pediatric studies in the surgical journals omit IRB documentation. Strict requirements for specific IRB approval and documentation in compliance with the Declaration of Helsinki would allow higher ethical standards for the clinical investigation of infants and children.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health