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July 2013

Stunting the Growth of Child Health Research: A Need to Reframe “Children Are Not Small Adults”

Author Affiliations
  • 1Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit, Division of General Pediatrics, Division of General Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program, Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, and Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
JAMA Pediatr. 2013;167(7):598-599. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.165

The notion that “children are not small adults” has deep roots in intellectual thought. Influential scientists (Jean Piaget, PhD), educators (Maria Montessori, MD), and philosophers (Jean-Jacques Rosseau) each described how children are not only shorter in stature than adults, but also fundamentally different in their thoughts, actions, and consciousness.

Pediatricians have long adopted “children are not small adults” as a motivating mantra. Child health researchers utter the same aphorism to justify scientific inquiries specific to children’s health conditions and concerns and to remind public and private stakeholders (including Congress) why it is essential to conduct research regarding children.1

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