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Pediatric health experts have begun a campaign to get medical devices that are sized appropriately for young patients. Too often, they say, practitioners have to jury-rig adult devices for use in children.

Figure. ILLUSTRATION... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. ILLUSTRATIONS BY MICHAEL TRINSEY.

A group of pediatricians recently told a meeting organized by the American Academy of Pediatrics that they're often forced to treat children with devices intended for adults or to create makeshift equipment. "There's an ethical responsibility to assure that we have safe and effective devices for use in children," says Dr. Jon Abramson, pediatric chairman at Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N.C.


The academy will host a series of meetings to determine the most urgent device needs. The Food and Drug Administration is also expected to report to Congress about major barriers to developing child-sized devices.


Here are some of the practitioners' main complaints:


* Dialysis equipment is too large or powerful for children.


* Noninvasive ventilators lack masks that fit babies.


* Balloon catheters and other equipment used to repair cardiac birth defects are too large for infants. Heart pumps for patients awaiting transplant aren't available for children younger than age 5. No artificial heart valve expands as a child grows, so the child needs repeated surgeries.


* Shunts and implanted catheters become infected far more frequently in children than in adults, yet few efforts have been made to create germ-resistant versions for children.


* Artificial joints and other bone implants don't accommodate a child's growth.





"More Medical Devices Needed for Babies," Associated Press, September 21, 2004.