Overdosing your child: What you need to know & how to prevent it

babyHaving a sick child at home is scary business, and a recent study gives us even more cause for concern. A study conducted by NYU Medical School found that 68% of parents end up providing the wrong dose of over-the-counter medicine to children. How can you prevent overdosing your child and what are the signs to watch out for? Find out. 


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The study, which was featured in the Pediatrics journal, was co-written by Dr. Shonna Yin, an associate professor at NYU Medical School. The experiment, involving more than 2,000 caregivers in Atlanta, California and New York, discovered that 84% of participants made dosing errors. 

Overdosing or over-medicating occurred way more with participants who used dosing cups instead of syringes. "You should always use the syringe for accurate dosing," explains pediatrician Dr. Kevin Grassi, practicing at Glens Falls Hospital in New York. If you lose the syringe, it's a good rule of thumb to note that 1 teaspoon is approximately 5 ml. 

Understanding the dosing instructions is also key. "Don't assume the dose is always the same," he explains. "Consult the bottle every time to make sure you have the correct volume and concentration. When in doubt call your doctor's office." 

How do you know your child is suffering from a medication overdose? Dr. Grassi adds, "Overdoses on acetaminophen can nausea, vomiting, anorexia and, if left untreated, liver failure." Likewise, Motrin overdoses can cause stomach upset and even kidney failure if the overdose is very extreme. 

To avoid overdoses, Dr. Grassi urges parents to not let unskilled caretakers give your child medicine without proper instruction. "Babysitters, aunts, uncles with no children might not have experience dosing pediatric medications. If you are leaving, measure the doses beforehand or do a walk-through," he suggests. 

Image via iStock

Topics: babies  family  health