UNCRC Series – Children should be involved in decisions about their health when possible

Children should be involved in decisions about their health when possible.

Parents often make medical decisions for children because they are considered to have reduced decision-making capacity. Despite this, it is important to include children in decision making to a reasonable extent.

To make decisions about health they must provide informed consent. Informed consent is: Consent gained from an individual when they clearly understand the possible risks and benefits of an action or decision. Benefits and risks can be both short and long term. The information about medical procedures and treatments must be given in a way that can be easily understood and is able to be described back to a medical professional.

One example of this is genetic testing. Informed consent for genetic testing requires the person to have an understanding of the risks involved. Issues such as  the potential for psychological distress, secondary findings, and adult onset diseases must be discussed with parents, and, in an age appropriate way with children.

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