Children as Test Subjects

The National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research concluded in 1977 that children were an especially vulnerable population because they could not offer consent. Yet, children today are more likely to become research subjects now that federal policies begun in the mid-1990s have changed the face of the “typical research subject.”

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Radioactive Experiments on Orphans

Vanderbilt University physicians administered radioactive cocktails to pregnant women in Nashville. The University of Chicago fed the radioactive elements strontium and cesium to 102 unwitting patients at state schools. One Dickensian institution, the Fernald School in Waltham, Massachusetts, added radioactive oatmeal to the menus of thirty orphans in a program sponsored by the AEC with the support of the Quaker Oats Company.

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