Why you shouldn’t use a teaspoon to give medicine

Doctor says wrong medicine measures are to blame for children's A&E visits


It’s the middle of the night, your toddler is bunged up and snotty with a cold, just where the flip is the little white measuring spoon that came with the medicine? Well, if at this point you’d run to the kitchen for a teaspoon then you might want to read on…


Using household spoons to give children any liquid medicines can lead to them getting an overdose – and in some cases too much medicine could be serious, even leading to liver failure.

Getting the measure right

According to Ian M. Paul, M.D., M.Sc., FAAP, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on Drugs spoons are just not very accurate and generally come in all shaped and sizes. In America, more than 70,000 children go to emergency rooms each year for ‘unintentional medicine overdoses’ and, according to Dr Paul’s research, in some of these cases using the wrong measuring device could be the cause.

Instead of teaspoons, parents should use syringes or the little cup or spoon that comes with the medicine, say the AAP. “They (parents) should make sure they understand their child’s dose of a medication and if they don’t, they should ask their health care provider for the dose,” Dr. Paul said.

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