Children, biobanks and the scope of parental consent

K. Hens*, H. Nys, J.J. Cassiman, K. Dierickx

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The use of stored tissue samples from children for genetic research raises specific ethical questions that are not all analogous to those raised when adult participants are concerned. These include issues with regard to consent, as it is typically a parent who consents to the use of samples from children. In this paper, we discuss the scope of parental consent. This scope has a temporal dimension and one related to the content of consent. It is not questioned that the temporal scope of parental consent is limited and that young adults have the right to decide on the fate of their samples when they reach the age of maturity. With regard to the content of consent, the question remains whether parents are allowed to give full broad consent to any possible future research on the samples of their children. We argue that they should not be allowed to do so, based on two premises. First, it is generally acknowledged that children have a right to express their own values and that they should be given the opportunity to develop their own autonomy as they grow older. Second, research and science are not completely value-free and some types of research may be more sensitive than other types. Children should be given the opportunity to express their values also in this respect.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)735-739
JournalEuropean Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011

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