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Editorial
Studying neglected diseases in children: antiserum for Indian red scorpion envenomation
  1. Facundo Garcia-Bournissen,
  2. Nicolas Gonzalez,
  3. Jaime Altcheh
  1. Parasitology and Chagas Disease Service, Buenos Aires ‘Ricardo Gutierrez’ Children's Hospital, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  1. Correspondence to Dr Facundo Garcia-Bournissen, Parasitology and Chagas Disease Service, Buenos Aires ‘Ricardo Gutierrez’ Children's Hospital, Gallo 1330, Buenos Aires 1425, Argentina; Facugb{at}hotmail.com

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The WHO has identified 17 neglected diseases, affecting over a billion people worldwide, many of which can be effectively controlled by relatively simple measures. However, these are but a fraction of the full spectrum of neglected diseases and conditions affecting the most impoverished and marginalised populations of the world. These neglected diseases and conditions include, among many others, reproductive health issues, sexually transmitted diseases, micronutrient deficits and poisonings. Largely ignored, children comprise an important part of the voiceless victims of these diseases.

Currently available treatments for neglected diseases and conditions have a number of shortcomings for children, including lack of paediatric formulations and absence of paediatric specific data. These problems force dosing decisions to be based on adult data, leading to a greater risk of toxicity, or therapeutic failure due to underdosing.

Considering that toxicology is an area where sizeable clinical studies are extremely rare, it is easy to understand that clinical research in paediatric toxicology is a highly deserted area, particularly for acute poisonings and understandably (but not justifiably) worse for neglected diseases and conditions. When toxicology studies do enrol children it is usually as part of the general population, but rarely in sufficient numbers to achieve the power required for paediatric subgroup analysis. Scorpion envenomation is one of these neglected conditions for which clinical trials are uncommon, and most rare in children. However, mortality is currently concentrated in the paediatric population.

To date, studies have provided strong evidence of the effectiveness of prazosin, …

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