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Many parents giving kids wrong dose of medication, study shows

Posted September 21

he next time you give your child a liquid medicine, you may want to use an oral syringe, a new study suggests.

The study, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, found that 80 percent of parents gave their kids the wrong amount of medicine, usually too much. In fact, 20 percent of parents made a large error, meaning they gave twice the amount of medicine called for.

Using oral syringes instead of dosing cups to measure, especially for smaller doses, could solve much of that, the research indicated.

"When parents used dosing cups, they had four times the odds of making a dosing error compared to when they used an oral syringe," Dr. Shonna Yin, co-author of the study, told CNN.

Oral syringes are considered the gold standard when accuracy is critical, the researchers said.

Another way to cut down on errors — use labels that call for and tools that measure in milliliters instead of teaspoons or tablespoons.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently made that recommendation, although it knows that most parents are more comfortable with nonmetric measurements. In the study, use of a teaspoon-only label was associated with more errors than when milliliter-only labels and tools were used.

Also, if you’re in the habit of using a kitchen spoon to measure medicine, time to change, researchers suggest. Kitchen spoons can vary widely in shape and size. Researchers said tools with standard markings like oral syringes, droppers, or even dosing cups are better than spoons.

The study included 2,110 caregivers of children 8 years old or younger in Atlanta, New York, and Stanford, California. It found that health literacy and language barriers also contributed to some dosing mistakes.

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