Parents have been told that they should make sure they use special and accurate measuring spoons and other dosing devices when giving medication to children. However, a new study has shown that most parents may not always have to trust these measuring devices that come with the medicines. In addition, the study has mentioned that there are dosing instructions that are undependable.

There are more than 700 over-the-counter products in liquid form for the treatment of pain, cold and flu, cough, allergies and other gastrointestinal problems are out in the market. This gives parents a hard time in choosing which medicine to give their children. This study will soon be published on December 15 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association. The investigators have done related evaluations for the 200 most popular liquid medication for children that corresponded to 99 percent of the US market share for the 200 products.

The said study was done after the release of the Food and Drug Administration’s voluntary guidelines to the pharmaceutical industry in connection to the OTC liquid medications for children. The mentioned guidelines were arranged because of the reported concerns of parents about inconsistent measuring devices like the syringes, spoons, droppers and calibrated cups, and the dosage written on these medications.

A group of researchers were formed to analyze these 200 over-the-counter medicines for children below 12. The research was done under the supervision of H. Shonna Yin, MD, MS, of the New York University School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital Center. Out of the 200 medications analyzed, 148 items or equal to 74 percent come with a standardized measuring devices, and out of these 148 items, 98.6 percent had at least one inconsistency between the device and directions written on the label.When given a more thorough look showed that 81.1 percent of these measuring devices had at least one unessential or superfluous marking. In addition 89 percent of these products showed inconsistency of unit measurement between the product label and the enclosed device. Such inconsistencies will have parents become more confused, thus may result to giving an inaccurate dosage to their children.

It has been noted by the investigators additional inconsistencies with the measuring devices, together with the written dosage. The investigators also noted the 5.5 percent inconsistencies in nonstandard units of measurement among the products.

Fifty percent of children in the United States take at least one medication in a period of one week, and more than one half of these medicines are over the counter. Considering this number, there could be more harm on children due to the lack of consistency and clarity in measuring devices and units of measurement.

Darren A. DeWalt, MD, MPH of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in one of his editorials that come with the study in JAMA said that the most elegant and effective medical treatments and therapies are more likely to fail if patients cannot administer the therapy properly.