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The Top 10 Medication Mistakes Parents Make

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Ask the doctor if it's okay to skip nighttime doses. Sometimes it is more important to wake a child than to let him sleep. And make sure baby-sitters, relatives, and other people who look after your child know how and when to administer the medication.

Mistakes

A frantic parent once called Dr. Greensher in the middle of the night because she had grabbed adult cough syrup in the darkness and given it to her seven-year-old instead of his antibiotic. "This can happen during the day too," says Dr. Greensher, "especially if a busy parent is in a rush." To be on the safe side, call the doctor should such a mistake occur.

Never Assume

"Parents shouldn't just assume that a drug is working," says Dr. Greensher. "Ask the doctor when your child should show signs of improvement and about potential side effects." If you're in any doubt, don't hesitate to call. Your pediatrician may need to give your child a different medication.

How to Give Medication

It's tempting to slip medicine into food or drink to make it more palatable. "But this can prevent drugs from being absorbed," says Howard Mofenson, M.D., F.A.A.P., a pediatric pharmacologist at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, New York. Some key precautions:

  • Most antibiotics should be taken an hour before or an hour after meals. Those that can be taken with meals include sulfa drugs, commonly prescribed for ear infections, and new types of erythromycin and amoxicillin.
  • It's best to give drugs with water. Carbonated beverages can inhibit absorption, as can milk when downed with tetracycline, fluoride drugs, and drugs for pediatric heart conditions. Doctors say it's fine, however, to pour some chocolate syrup into a dose of liquid medicine.
  • DON'T TAKE WITH FOOD includes juice, although a half ounce or less usually won't degrade the drug.
  • If a drug can be mixed with food, use just enough to mask the taste — a teaspoon of applesauce, yogurt, or ice cream should do the trick. If a portion is too large, a child may not finish it and won't get the full dose.

 

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