Are You Giving Your Child the Right Amount of Medicine?

2 Dec

The following article was found on, and can be linked to directly by clicking here.

About one third of all emergency room visits for children under 12 involve over-the-counter medication, according to the CDC.

Some 70,000 children under 18 are rushed to the ER every year because of an overdose.  In 2008, the CDC launched a program called PROTECT, to prevent unintentional overdoses in children.  It called for improving packaging for over-the-counter medicines and refining dosing measurements.

However, those guidelines were voluntary.

A study started shortly after their announcement has found little has changed.

Researchers tested about 200 pediatric, over-the-counter liquid medications.

Their study, printed in the “Journal of the American Medical Association,” found something wrong with nearly 99 percent of the labels and measuring products tested.

They found problems with the measuring markings in 98 percent of them.  Some indicated milliliters, others teaspoons, and some — nothing at all.

An unscientific test conducted by News 8 of pediatric liquid medicine also shows that different devices often measure doses differently.

It’s not only confusing for parents, Baylor Carrollton Dr. Bill Paruolo says, it’s potentially dangerous for children.

“If you’re doing something like Tylenol or acetaminophen,” says Dr. Paruolo, “Giving too much of that medicine too often, yea, it could make a difference.”

Researchers are calling for standardized measuring devices and directions for all over-the-counter pediatric medicines.

Two-year old Vivian’s parents are cautious before giving their little girl medicine, even for a suspected cold.

“I sometimes feel like you’re so careful not to give them too much,” says Jennifer Anguiano, Vivian’s mother, “But with those cups and stuff I sometimes feel like it’s not enough and that’s why it’s not working.”

In her daughter’s case, the over-the-counter stuff wouldn’t have helped.  Vivian needed a breathing treatment.

Doctors prescribe medication based on weight.  If the dosing directions are confusing, experts recommend contacting a pediatrician that can advise an exact amount of medicine to give a child.

So how do you know if the cup, syringe, or dropper you use is accurate?

In a study to test these devices, participants were asked to measure medicine. The most accurate was found to be the oral syringe; 67 percent got the correct measurement using it.

Only 15 percent got an accurate dose using a cup.


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