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Institutionalized Children - The Medical Community's Guinea Pigs of Choice during the 20th Century

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Published on Oct 30, 2013

This is part of the Rock Ethics Institute's Research Ethics Lecture Series.

Though often cited as our most precious resource and dearest commodity, children -- particularly those institutionalized in orphanages, mental asylums, and warehouses for the "feebleminded" -- were often sought out by physicians and medical researchers as test subjects for experimentation. Even a cursory examination of 20th century medical research will illuminate numerous examples of children -- some only days old -- being incorporated in a wide range of medical research. Many prominent investigators in search of practical treatments and vaccines, exploring the impact of radiation and psychotropic drugs, or new surgical procedures like lobotomy, routinely found their way to poorly funded and under-staffed state institutions housing the nation's most vulnerable citizens.

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