Are we overdosing our kids?

Posted at 8:40 AM, Oct 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-04 08:40:54-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- When it comes to liquid medicine, more than two thirds of us are giving our kids the wrong dosage, many of us too much.

Dr. Dan McGee, a pediatrician and Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, says inexact measuring devices like kitchen spoons are causing dosing errors.

"When you write a prescription for something in a spoonful, a teaspoon full, or tablespoon full you never know what size teaspoon full or tablespoon full you’re going to get."

Doctor McGee says inexact measuring devices can cause harm. Too much Tylenol (acetaminophin) can cause liver toxicity. Ibuprofen can cause kidney problems. And an excess of antibiotics can give you diarrhea.

"I’ve had instances where somebody has misread a decimal point, and they’ve given 10 times the amount of medicine they were supposed to," Dr. McGee said.

The doctor's concerns mirror the findings in a new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics. That study shows 68 percent of parents made a mistake when measuring liquid medicine. More often than not, they administered too much.

One local mom is not surprised. "You grab what’s out of your drawer," says Andi Serocke. "You grab a spoon, you grab whatever is at hand. I don’t, but I can see people do that."

Both Serocke and Dr. McGee recommend that parents use dosing tools with standard markings, such as oral syringes or dosing cups.

For smaller amounts especially, doctors say using an oral syringe is best.

For the record, there are five milliliters in a teaspoon. Doctors urge you to measure that out, because kitchen teaspoons vary in size.