Teaspoon warning: Children at risk of overdose

PARENTS have been warned not to give their children medicine using an ordinary teaspoon because of the risk of overdose.

A study found that teaspoons vary from a capacity of 2.5ml to 7.3ml, meaning youngsters could be receiving an inaccurate dose.

Instead, parents should use the special spoon provided with a medicine or buy a syringe or spoon with measurements on it.

They should also consult the medicine’s packaging to make sure their child is given the right dose for their age.

Experts from Greece and the US looked at 71 teaspoons and 49 tablespoons collected from 25 households.

They said a parent using one of the biggest teaspoons would be giving their child 192% more medicine than a parent using the smallest teaspoon. Some of the tablespoons were also twice the size of others.

The experts, writing in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, said not only is there a risk of overdose, but some youngsters could be given too little medicine.

Professor Matthew Falagas, director of the Alfa Institute of Biomedical Sciences in Athens, was one of the authors on the study.

He said: “The variations between the domestic spoon sizes was considerable and in some case bore no relation to the proper calibrated spoons included in many commercially available children’s medicines.

“We not only found wide variations between households, we also found considerable differences within households. Dosing and administering medication to children is different from adults.

“Paediatric dosages need to be adjusted to age and body weight and, as a result, children are considered to be more vulnerable to dosage errors than adults.

“Our research clearly shows that using domestic teaspoons and tablespoons can result in children receiving considerably more or less medicine than they need.”

Prof Falagas said syringes could give parents “greater confidence they have dispensed the right dose.”

He said adults should also avoid using household teaspoons when measuring their own medicine.

“Although adults do not face the same risk levels as children, we would still advise them to use properly calibrated spoons or cups if they take any liquid medicine.”


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