More than half of prescriptions given to children were wrong, study finds

Doctors prescribing paracetamol to toddlers too readily, study also suggests.

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One in four toddlers is being given too much paracetamol by GPs, a study suggests.

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The research looked at data from prescriptions given to 35,839 children in Scotland in 2006.

It found that 57% of prescriptions were wrong, with doses either too high or too low.

Toddlers’ aged between 1 and 3 were at greatest risk of being given an overdose, with 27% prescribed too much paracetamol. By contrast a quarter of kids aged 6 to 12 years old were not given enough of the painkiller. 

Parents often give their baby or child Calpol or similar medicines containing paracetamol at home before going to the GP, who then prescribes another painkilling medicine, the researchers found.

“Paracetamol is so widely prescribed we’ve become over-confident,” said Dr James McLay, one of the study’s authors.

Judging the correct dosage for children is “not straightforward,” with factors such as a baby’s age and weight affecting how much they should be given, said the researchers.

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Experts warn that in very rare cases too much of the painkiller can cause liver damage.

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