The next great medical innovations that could save children

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AAP committee highlights medical advancements needed for children's health

Child research lags behind adult research, says AAP

CNN  — 

What medical advancements could save the lives of our children in the future? That’s the question members of the American Academy of Pediatrics asked themselves. Their answers were published last week in the journal Pediatrics.

“We thought about the next 40 years and what fields of study might lead to great medical achievements,” said co-author Dr. Tina Cheng, Director of the Department of Pediatrics at John Hopkins Hospital.

“We wanted to identify areas that could have the greatest impact on improving children’s lives,” added co-author Dr. Clifford Bogue, a critical care pediatrician at Yale University School of Medicine. “Because we believe child research is a great investment, we thought it would be helpful for advocating for funding in the future.”

What has pediatric research accomplished?

Studies say research into diseases that disable and kill children falls far behind those done on adults in both scope and quality.

“The amount of research being done with children and infants has been declining,” said Cheng, “and funding for pediatric research has been flat or declining as well.”

To draw attention to the disparity, the American Academy of Pediatrics created a campaign: the “7 Great Achievements in Pediatric Research.” By canvassing board members and asking them to rank key advances in childhood health, the AAP created a list of seven of the greatest pediatric research achievements of the last 40 years.

Published in 2015, the historical advances included the famous “Back to Sleep” campaign to prevent sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS; the all-out push for laws requiring car seats and seat belts for children of all ages; preventing disease with life-saving immunizations and finding a successful treatment for the most common childhood cancer, acute lymphocytic leukemia.

Other great achievements they highlighted were helping premature babies breathe with a surfactant therapy, reducing HIV transmission from mother to baby and increasing the life expectancy for children with sickle cell anemia and cystic fibrosis.

“We wanted to highlight to the public and to legislators just what the value was for the research dollars that were spent, most of which were funded by the National Institutes of Health,” said Bogue, “to show the huge impact the research had on saving and improving the lives of children and their families.”