Kids & Medicines: Throw Away The Kitchen Spoons

Parents always face this dilemma: “half a teaspoon” or “one tablespoon” of medicine for their child. But it’s fairly obvious that spoons now come in all shapes and sizes, so perhaps your child isn’t getting the correct dose. Now, a new study shows that there is a lot of variability in those spoons, enough so that parents should invest a couple dollars in a measured dropper instead. In the study, first printed in the Annals of Internal Medicine and reviewed in Pediatrics JournalWatch, patients tried to pour 5ml into a series of spoons. They found a 20% error in under/overdosing. While that not seem like a lot, cumulatively it can cause issues, especially with excess Tylenol doses or too much codeine or pseudoephedrine in cough syrups. As they mention in their commentary:

Although the dosing errors demonstrated in this study might seem inconsequential for a cold medication, the cumulative effect of 20% variation in the delivery of medications could have considerable clinical impact for drugs with tighter risk-benefit profiles. Clearly, the size of the spoon is important when patients pour their medications. We should encourage parents to use accurate measures (e.g., measuring cap, dropper, or syringe) rather than convenient utensils for liquid-medication dosing.


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One thought on “Kids & Medicines: Throw Away The Kitchen Spoons”

  1. You can get a 1, 2 or 5 ml syringe at BJU, SOS or other pharmacies (no needle) for medication administration.

    Also, I have found it helpful to NOT NECESSARILY follow the dosage on the side of the bottle (or even what the doctor recommends as it is usually the maximum dosage). Rather, I usually calculate our own dosage based on the recommended minimum effective dose.

    Ibuprofin (Motrin) dosage is 5-10 mg/kg of body weight. Acetaminophen (Tylenol, Panadol) is 10 to 15 mg/kg of body weight. (The mg of medicine per, say, 5 ml, is on the front of the bottle). Following the general guidelines on the side of the bottle, you could easily give twice as much medication as is really necessary. Because Tylenol has the potential to cause liver problems/failure, and has been shown to affect the immune system negatively (disrupts glutathione production) it is best IMO to minimize the dose (and perhaps favor Motrin in general over Tylenol).

    At times I have even given around half the minimum dosage, and teething pain (or whatever) seemed to subside. Heck, if it doesn't work in 20 or 30 minutes, I can always add a bit more medicine.

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