Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Widespread parental misuse of medicines puts children at risk, experts argue

Date:
August 29, 2010
Source:
International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP)
Summary:
Many children are being put at risk by parents' overuse of widely available over-the-counter medicines for fever, coughs and colds, Australian researchers say. Dosing errors and inappropriate use of such medicines lead to a large number of calls to poison centers as well as emergency hospital admissions.

Many children are being put at risk by parents over-use of widely-available over the counter (OTC) medicines for fever, coughs and colds, according to a study from Australia being presented to the annual conference of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP). The researchers, led by Dr. Rebekah Moles from the University of Sydney, New South Wales, say that dosing errors and inappropriate use of such medicines lead to a large number of calls to poison centres as well as emergency hospital admissions.

Related Articles


"We were surprised and concerned to find that some people thought that medicines must be safe because you can buy them without prescription," said Dr. Moles. "For example, one parent said to us that if Panadol ® is available over the counter, administering a double dose couldn't do any harm and asked: What could be the worst that could happen?"

Dr. Moles and her team studied 97 adults from day-care centres in Sydney; 53 mothers, 7 fathers, and 37 day care staff over a five month period ending in February 2010. The age range of children at the centres was from four to five years old. The researchers went through a number of scenarios with the participants, for example telling parents that their youngest child felt hot and seemed a little irritable, but was still drinking, eating and playing. For parents, the child was always their own; for day-care workers the example of a child of an average size for its 2.5 years was used. They then asked participants what they would do.

Common OTC medicines were made available, together with different types of dosing devices, including household spoons. Participants then chose whether or not to give a medicine, at what stage, and at what dose. They were asked to measure the dose for the researchers. Because doses for children are often small, the risk of getting the measurement wrong is greatly increased, the researchers say.

"Taking all the scenarios together, 44% of participants would have given an incorrect dose, and only 64% were able to measure accurately the dose they intended to give. We found that 15% of participants would give a medicine without taking their child's temperature, and 55% would give medicine when the temperature was less than 38 degrees," said Dr. Moles. Paracetamol was the preferred treatment, even for coughs and cold, and was used most often -- 61% of the time -- despite the child having no fever. Only 14% of carers managed the fever scenario correctly.

The New South Wales Poisons Information Centre, who also receive all out of hours calls from around Australia, say in their 2008 Annual Report that of the 119,000 calls they received during that year, 48% concerned accidental overdose in children, with 15% needing hospitalisation. Over 85% of all calls regarding accidental overdose in children involved those under five, with almost 80% of incidents involving those under three.

"Given these figures and our findings, there is an urgent need to review the use of children's OTC medicines by parents," said Dr. Moles. "We are following up this research by using mystery shoppers to visit pharmacies and see what advice they are given when presenting similar scenarios. If we feel that the advice given is inappropriate, we will give immediate feedback and coaching so that it can be improved.

"However, the most important thing is to improve carers' understanding of when and how to give medication. We are extending our research to look for any associations that make parent and carer skills better or worse, for example their level of education and socio-economic status. If we find patterns of behaviour associated with these factors we will target educational interventions specifically at these groups."

Australia is unlikely to be a special case, the researchers say, believing that the inappropriate use of children's medicines is widespread throughout the world. "We would be interested in collaborating with groups in other countries in order to undertake similar studies so that appropriate educational programmes may be put in place. It is vital that parents worldwide should understand the proper usage of medicines so that they do not continue to put their children's health at risk," Dr. Moles concluded.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP). "Widespread parental misuse of medicines puts children at risk, experts argue." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100829202006.htm>.
International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP). (2010, August 29). Widespread parental misuse of medicines puts children at risk, experts argue. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100829202006.htm
International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP). "Widespread parental misuse of medicines puts children at risk, experts argue." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100829202006.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

AFP (Nov. 27, 2014) — The Ebola epidemic sweeping Sierra Leone is having a profound effect on the country's children, many of whom have been left without any family members to support them. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experimental Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Trial

Experimental Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Trial

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — A recent test of a prototype Ebola vaccine generated an immune response to the disease in subjects. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins