IRB Tips & Tricks : 11/18/2016: What happens if a child reaches the legal age of consent while enrolled in a study

11/18/2016: What happens if a child reaches the legal age of consent while enrolled in a study?

Informed consent should be viewed as an ongoing process throughout the duration of a research project. When a child who was enrolled in research with parental or guardian permission subsequently reaches the legal age of consent to the procedures involved in ongoing research, the subject’s participation in the research is no longer regulated by the requirements of 45 CFR part 46.408 regarding parental or guardian permission and subject assent. Unless the Institutional Review Board (IRB) determines that the requirements for obtaining informed consent can be waived, the investigators should seek and obtain the legally effective informed consent, as described in 45 CFR 46.116, for the now-adult subject for any ongoing interactions or interventions with the subjects. This is because the prior parental permission and child assent are not equivalent to legally effective informed consent for the now-adult subject. However, the IRB could approve a waiver of informed consent under 45 CFR 46.116(d), if the IRB finds and documents that the required conditions are met.