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80 percent of parents make mistakes when measuring out doses of liquid medicines for their children

Updated: Apr 3, 2021

Even under supervision, more than 80 percent of parents made a mistake when measuring out doses of liquid medicines for their children, a surprising new study finds.*

“We were surprised to see how many parents made errors,” said the report’s lead author, Dr. Shonna Yin, an associate professor of pediatrics and population health at the New York University School of Medicine. “It’s possible that parents may be making even more mistakes at home.”

Most of the mistakes — 68 percent — involved measuring out too much medicine.

This and other studies highlighted the importance of packaging in relation to the dosing of children’s analgesics. The problem with the little measuring cups is that “even if you make what looks like a small error on a cup that translates into more volume than it would on a syringe,” Yin said.

Also, sometimes the cups are large enough that they can contain twice the recommended dosage.

2016 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that over 84% of parents give their children the wrong dose of medicine, with 21% giving greater than two times the recommended dose.

This can create potentially serious health risks, including liver damage, nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision and dizziness.

The primary driver of these errors is the packaging of the medicines themselves. Insufficient or inconsistent measuring tools (cups, spoons, droppers, and syringes), confusing labeling, and a mismatch between measuring tools and labeling all contribute to parents’ challenges in providing the right dose of medicine to their child. As a recent example of this issue, on August 27, 2018, Pfizer issued a voluntary recall of a production run of their Children’s Advil product, citing danger of overdose due to mislabeling between the packaging and the measuring cup.

The Correct Dose delivery system address this issue by introducing a patented single-dose packaging system for liquid medications, enabling parents and caregivers to confidently give the correct (pre-measured) dose, based on the child’s weight, every time.

Parenting Magazine helpful hints: It's no treat to wrestle a squirmy, inconsolable child to get three drops of medicine into him. But when your baby is sick, medicine is often a must. Here are some effective techniques that can make your job a little easier in helping the medicine go down.

Make sure you're using the correct dosage. Over-the-counter and prescription medicine for babies comes in "infant drops," which are usually prescribed in milliliters (ml) or cubic centimeters (cc).

Dos and Don'ts


· Ask your doctor whether medicine should be given before, after or with meals.

· Inform your doctor if baby is taking any other medicine -- mixing certain OTC medicines with prescription drugs may not be safe.

· Write down what time you administer medicines, so you don't get confused.

· Keep an eye on your children, watch for unexpected behavior that may occur due to an overdose.

· Contact your doctor immediately if something does not seem right


· Don't "double up" on the amount of medicine if you've missed a dose. Skip it and give your baby the regular amount at the next scheduled time.

· Don't store medicine in the bathroom; temperature changes and humidity can affect a drug's stability.

· Never give baby medicine without asking your pediatrician first.

*Source: The American Academy of Pediatrics “Liquid Medication Errors and Dosing Tools” September 2016

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