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Pediatricians Urge Parents Against Medicating Without Doctor’s Prescription

Medical specialists for child health have advised parents to ensure that the drugs they give to their children when they are sick, especially those under five years are prescribed by health professionals to avoid incorrect doses.

Paediatricians warned that giving wrong doses of medications to children can have  severe consequences than the same mistake when  given to an adults.
They noted that children are at a higher risk of medication errors due to varied sizes, stages of development, communication barriers, and treatment than adults.

According to them, medicine not taken correctly can cause deathly consequences to children, stressing that children are smaller than adults, and their immune systems are still developing.

Furthermore, physicians said it is wrong for parents to give their children half of an adult dose of a medication when they are sick.

Evidence suggests that errors occur more frequently in children than in adults and may be up to three times more likely to cause harm.

Paediatricians say despite increasing recognition of this problem — and calls from the World Health Organisation to reduce medication-related harm — the goal of improved medication safety in children has not been fully realised.

They maintained that an in-depth understanding of the nature and causes of errors is essential to underpin improvement.

A Professor of Paediatrics at the Department of Paediatrics, College of Health Sciences, University of Ilorin, Kwara State, Olugbenga Mokuolu,  advised parents to desist from the practice of giving their children half of an adult dose of a medication.

Mokuolu, who is also a Consultant Paediatrician at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, said reducing adult dosage by half for children is not a good practice.

The renowned paediatrician explained, “It is not a good practice to give children half the adult dosage of a medication.

“The way the dose of a drug that a child will take is calculated is different from how adult doses are calculated. And sometimes, it is not just a question of adult dose.

“The way we prescribe drugs for children is that we always relate the dose of the drugs we want to prescribe to their body size. So, that is the critical issue.

“Sometimes, the dose that a child may take may be as high as a dose an adult will take. It depends on what we calculate because we relate it to every child.

“That is the important thing and that is why we discourage this type of practice of using adult dosages for children.”

Mokuolu noted that parents should not take the dosing of drugs for granted, stressing that they should be guided by their health workers on the dosing of a drug for their children.

He pointed out that the age makes the difference in administering drugs to children.

“For instance, if you look at a child, a child is anybody from a newborn to somebody who is 14 years old. So, which dose are you going to use if you are just going to reduce the adult dose?

” So, the spectrum of what constitutes a child is so important that parents should be guided by their health worker on the dosing of a drug.

” They should not take it for granted that it will be half of an adult dose. There is no half of an adult dose in some cases, it will become too much. In some cases, it may be too little.

“So, the summary is that parents should be guided properly”, he said.

The researcher said parents should go to an appropriate place to lay the complaints off whenever their children are sick, adding that there are community health workers who could be of assistance when administering drugs to their children.

He concluded, “We recommend that they should take their children to the hospital and not go buy a drug that works for child A for child B. We want to discourage them from all these practices.”

Writing in Harvard Health Publishing, a primary care paediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital, and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Claire McCarthy, said parents should make sure that they understand the instructions before giving medicine to their children.

The paediatrician noted that the majority of the errors that parents make in giving their children were overdosed  “with 21 per cent giving more than twice the recommended dose of the medication.”

Lastly, specialist stated that people tend to mess up in scary ways such as: either measuring it wrong or misunderstanding the instructions. Which is completely understandable, but the consequences can be dangerous”