Parents should never use spoons for measuring children’s medicine, said the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
According to the latest dosage guidelines by the AAP, adults should only use cups or syringes with clear metric measurements in milliliters (mL) when measuring medicine doses.
“Each year, more than 70,000 children visit emergency departments as a result of unintentional medication overdoses,” said the AAP.
“Spoons come in many different sizes and are not precise enough to measure a child's medication. For infants and toddlers, a small error—especially if repeated for multiple doses—can quickly become toxic,” said Dr. Ian Paul, pediatrician and lead author of the latest dosing guidelines
On the other hand, making sure children get their prescribed doses is not just the parents’ responsibility. The AAP is also giving a universally recognized standard for “how doctors write prescriptions, how pharmacists dispense liquid medications and dosing cups, and how manufacturers print labels on their products,” said Dr. Paul.
“Even though we know metric units are safer and more accurate, too many healthcare providers are still writing that prescription using spoon-based dosing,” said Dr. Paul. “For this to be effective, we need not just the parents and families to make the switch to metric, we need providers and pharmacists too.”
Here are a few of the other updates included in the dosage guidelines of the AAP:
Eliminating labeling, instructions and dosing devices that contain non-metric units
Clear instructions for dose frequency stated on the label in common language like “daily” instead of medical abbreviations like ‘qd’ (which means four times daily)
Dosing devices should not have extra markings that can be confusing
Pediatricians should explain mL-based doses with families when prescribing liquid medicines
Prescriptions should now include leading zeroes, or zeroes before a decimal point (i.e., 0.5) and exclude trailing zeroes, or unnecessary zeroes at the ends of numbers (i.e., 0.50).
Sources: March 30, 2015. "Measure kids’ medicines in metric units, not spoonfuls, doctors say'. gmanetwork.com March 30, 2015. "Don’t Make This Medication Mistake! The AAP Clarifies Dosage Guidelines for Kids". parents.com Undated. "Doctors: Use Spoons in the Kitchen, Not for Kids' Medicine". parenting.com