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Updated 30 April 2015

Parents often overdose kids

Many parents give their children too large or frequent doses of non-prescription medicines for fever, coughs and colds, putting their health at risk.

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Many parents give their children too large or frequent doses of non-prescription medicines for fever, coughs and colds, putting their health at risk, according to an Australian study.

"Many children are being put at risk by parents’ over-use of widely-available over the counter medicines for fever, coughs and colds," concluded the study by University of Sydney researchers presented at a conference of the International Pharmaceutical Federation.

"We were surprised and concerned to find that some people thought that medicines must be safe because you can buy them without prescription", said Rebekah Moles, who headed up the study of 97 parents and day care centre employees.

"Taking all the scenarios together, 44% of participants would have given an incorrect dose, and only 64% were able to measure accurately the dose they intended to give", said Moles.

Only 14% managed the fever scenario correctly.

Some accidental overdoses need hospitalisation

The noted that 48% of calls in 2008 to the New South Wales Poisons Information Centre, which receives all out of hours calls from around Australia, concerned accidental overdose in children, with 15% needing hospitalisation.

Australia is unlikely to be a special case, the researchers said, and they believe that the inappropriate use of children's medicines is widespread throughout the world.

"It is vital that parents worldwide should understand the proper usage of medicines so that they do not continue to put their children's health at risk," said Moles.

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