Expert warns on dangers of Giving children lower doses of adult medication

Experts in children’s health have cautioned parents against giving their children half of an adult dose of medications when they are sick, stressing that it is a dangerous practice that could cause harm.

The experts maintained that it is always important to ensure that a drug that a child will take is prescribed by healthcare professionals, stressing that inappropriate intake of drugs can cause serious harm to children.

In a recent interview, one of the experts, a Professor of Paediatrics at the Department of Paediatrics, College of Health Sciences, University of Ilorin, Kwara State, Olugbenga Mokuolu, said it has become imperative to warn parents against the practice because of its potential to cause harm.

Prof. Mokuolu, who is also a Consultant Paediatrician at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, said reducing the adult dosage of drugs by half for children is a wrong practice that should be discouraged even though it seems common in this clime.

He said, “It is not a good practice to give children half of the adult dosage of any medication.

“The way the dose of a drug that a child will take is calculated is different from how adult doses are calculated. And sometimes, it is not just a question of the adult dose.

“The way we prescribe drugs for children is that we always relate the dose of the drugs we want to prescribe to their body size. So, that is the critical issue.

“Sometimes, the dose that a child may take may be as high as a dose an adult will take. It depends on what we calculate because we relate it to every child.

“That is the important thing and that is why we discourage this type of practice of using adult dosages for children.”

Prof. Mokuolu noted that parents should not take the dosing of drugs for granted, stressing that they should be guided by their health workers on the dosing of a drug for their children.

He explained that age makes the difference when administering drugs to children.

“For instance, if you look at a child, a child is anybody from a newborn to somebody who is 14 years old. So, which dose are you going to use if you are just going to reduce the adult dose? So, the spectrum of what constitutes a child is so wide. And hence, a parent should be guided by their health worker on the dosing of a drug.

“They should not take it for granted that it will be half of an adult dose. There is no half of an adult dose. In some cases, it will become too much. In some cases, it may be too little. So, the summary is that parents should be guided properly,” he said.

The researcher stated further that parents should seek proper medical intervention whenever their child is sick and not resort to self-medication, adding that there are community health workers that could be of assistance when administering drugs to their children.

He said, “We recommend that they should take their children to the hospital and not go buy a drug that works for child A for child B. We want to discourage them from all these practices”

Also, writing in Harvard Health Publishing, a primary care pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital, and an assistant professor of paediatrics at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Claire McCarthy, said parents should make sure that they understand the instructions before giving medicine to their children.

The paediatrician noted that the majority of the errors that parents make in giving their children drugs were overdosing with 21 per cent giving more than twice the recommended dose of the medication