As a matter of respect for the person, it is considered an ethical duty to offer to return research results to participants where appropriate. Nevertheless, the return of individual research results to participants raises many socio-ethical issues and greater challenges when the participant is a child. This discrepancy arises partly because the return of individual pediatric research results entails a tripartite relationship between researcher, child, and parent(s) and is embroiled in numerous considerations (e.g., acting in the best interest of the child, respect for the person, and respect for the autonomy of the parents/child).
Extra caution is required in the pediatric research context because children cannot generally decide (consent) whether they want to be informed of their own research results or whether the results should be disclosed to parents. Children have long been considered a special and vulnerable group, and their parents, as guardians, play a critical role in the consent process. However, with regards to the return of individual research results, this might pose a potential conflict of interest between the current or future desires of the child and those of the parents.