Pharmacists have issued a reminder to parents to be extremely careful when giving medicines to children and to always seek the advice of a pharmacist before giving a child any medication.
The correct dose of medicine can vary depending on a child’s age, weight, and symptoms. As children grow, dosages can also change. Medicines meant for an adult should never be given to a child.
The Irish Pharmacy Union has produced a handy downloadable leaflet for parents on managing the most common ailments in babies and young children, including advice on medicine safety.
Ann Marie Horan, a member of the IPU’s executive committee and a community pharmacist, said: “When a child is sick, it is natural that parents want to make them feel better. Occasionally parents can unintentionally give young children too much medicine, especially when they are administering medicine regularly. Medicine dosages for children should be adjusted according to the age and weight of the child, particularly when it comes to common pain relieving medicines. Too little medication can be ineffective, while too much medication can be harmful. Your pharmacist will be able to advise you on the correct dosage for your child and I would encourage all parents to check with us — that’s what we’re here for.”
The following advice is a guideline for parents when giving medicine to a child:
Read the leaflet. Always follow the recommendations on the information leaflet provided with the medication.
Give the correct dose. The dose must be suitable for the child’s age and weight.
Follow the directions on when the medicine is to be taken. Stick to the instructions, for example, with or after food, or with liquid.
Use the proper sized spoon. Never guess the dose. Always use a 5ml spoon or dosage syringe provided with the medication.
Follow age and weight limit recommendations. If the label says do not give to children under a certain age or weight, don't do it.
Ensure the child takes all of the medicine each time it is given.
Keep a record of how much you have given and when.
Do not chill or crush medicine without checking it is okay to do so with your pharmacist as this could alter the effectiveness of some medicines.
Never mix medicines without first checking with a pharmacist that it is safe to do so. Many different-sounding medicines have the same ingredients and you can accidentally overdose as a result.
Do not give aspirin to children under 16, unless it is specifically prescribed by a doctor.
Store medicines in a cool, dry, place.
Safety first. Keep all medicines well out of the reach of children.
“Parents should seek immediate medical assistance if their child shows any adverse reactions to a medication such as trouble breathing or swallowing, a rash, hives, vomiting, or diarrhoea,” concluded Ms Horan.