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Pediatric Dosing—Giving Your Child a Safe Dose of Medicine

By Michael Zielinski, PharmD, RPh and Paul Butkerait, BS Pharm, PhD - This article originally published on Get Healthy Stay Healthy

When your child gets a cough or runny nose, do you pick up a bottle of medicine at the pharmacy and give them a dose with a kitchen spoon? Don’t. Giving medicine with that old kitchen spoon may mean that your child may be receiving a larger or smaller dose than directed.

In fact, the Department of Health and Human Services asks that you ditch the kitchen spoon and use the dosing device that comes with the over-the-counter (OTC) medication because the dosing spoon or cup that comes with the medicine has been calibrated specifically for that medicine.

Give a Safe Dose Every Time
While underdosing means your child may not be getting the benefit of adequate treatment, overdosing can be very dangerous. Each year, more than 70,000 children visit emergency departments in the U.S. due to unintentional medication overdoses. Two common and preventable medication errors are giving the wrong dose and using an incorrect dosing device. The FDA began to require easier to follow directions and easy-to-use, measuring devices be packaged with over-the-counter oral liquid medicines starting in 2011.

There are several safety tips that can help you to be more certain about the dose of medicine you are giving to your child:

Keep Medicine “Up and Away” from Children
Another important form of medication safety includes keeping medications out of the reach of children. This means:

When in Doubt, Speak to a Professional
Be sure to ask the pediatrician or pharmacist about giving the correct dose of medicine for your child. If for any reason, you think you may have a situation in which your child has gotten too much medication, always call Poison Control at (800) 222-1222. Even if you’re not sure, experts are standing by 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and are always willing to talk you through a question, issue, or problem.

Michael Zielinski, PharmD, RPh, is a Senior Manager in Global Medical Affairs at Pfizer.

Paul Butkerait, BS Pharm, PhD, is the Associate Director in Medical Affairs in Pain & Respiratory Consumer Healthcare at Pfizer.

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