So says this rather brief article at Wired.com:
It’s a strange finding nestled inside a weird phenomenon: children are 50 percent more likely than adults to respond favorably to placebos.
So concludes a Public Library of Science Medicine review by French pediatricians of anti-epilepsy drug studies. If replicated in other drugs, researchers may need to adjust their analyses of clinical drug studies involving kids.
What could account for the tendency of kids to feel better after taking a drug designed to do nothing? The reasons, write the researchers, “remain largely unknown and mostly speculative.”
This seems pretty simple to me. The placebo effect is at least partly based in belief and children will believe almost anything someone they trust tells them in sincerity. Kinda makes sense that they’d work better in kids. That’s probably oversimplifying things a bit, but I’d be surprised if that wasn’t true.