Washington: Scientists have warned parents that using domestic spoons to give children medicines could lead to overdoses.
The researchers studied 71 teaspoons and 49 tablespoons collected from 25 households in Attica, Greece.
It found that the capacity of the teaspoons ranged from 2.5ml to 7.3ml, with an average and median volume of 4.4ml. The capacity of the tablespoons ranged from 6.7ml to 13.4ml, with an average of 10.4ml and a median of 10.3ml.
“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” Professor Matthew E Falagas, Director of the Alfa Institute of Biomedical Sciences in Athens, Greece said.
“A parent using one of the biggest domestic teaspoons would be giving their child 192 per cent more medicine than a parent using the smallest teaspoon and the difference was 100 per cent for the tablespoons. This increases the chance of a child receiving an overdose or indeed too little medication,’ he added.
“We not only found wide variations between households, we also found considerable differences within households,” Falagas said.
The researchers were also keen to see whether there were any differences when five of the women were asked to dispense liquid from a calibrated 5ml medicine spoon. They found that only one dispensed the correct dose of liquid, with three dispensing 4.8ml and one 4.9ml.
As a result of their findings, the researchers, from Athens and Boston, USA, are recommending parents to use calibrated medicine syringes to dispense liquid medication to children. This method is also more effective if children are very young or reluctant to take medicine, as a spoon can be pushed away and spilt, leaving the parent unsure about how much the child has actually taken.
“Our research clearly shows that using domestic teaspoons and tablespoons can result in children receiving considerably more or less medicine than they need. Low-cost medicine syringes are widely available from pharmacists, very easy to use and will give parents greater confidence that they have dispensed the correct dose,” Falagas said.
The study was published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice.