Drug dose too low in every 10th child

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Ten percent of all children receive medication doses that are too low

A study shows that parents tend to arbitrarily reduce their child's medication dose to do less harm to the little ones and protect them from side effects. Doctors at the Erlangen University Children's Clinic warn of this practice.

One in ten children treated incorrectly Parents who want to protect their children from side effects and therefore use too little medication could endanger their offspring. As doctors and scientists from the Pediatric and Adolescent Clinic of the University Hospital Erlangen and the Robert Koch Institute found out in a study (""), about one in ten children are treated incorrectly by their own parents. According to the studies, in around ten to 15 percent of the cases, legal guardians give their little ones too little medication to harm them as little as possible. This could also be dangerous.

Lower doses do not protect against side effects “Due to the reduced administration of medication, the effect is often lacking. This is particularly fatal for antibiotics because it creates resistance, ”says study leader PD Dr. Antje Neubert from the Erlangen University Children's Clinic. In addition, lower doses would not protect against side effects. These undesirable side effects should also be accepted by the child, although in the worst case it has no therapeutic benefit from the drug.

No therapeutic effect According to the study, children are given one in five antibiotics in too low a dose. "Much may not happen to the children because the application was not necessary," says Neubert. However, resistance quickly develops if these agents are used too frequently and in low doses. The study leader says: "A problem that is now developing dangerously." She also sees the original intention of the parents, namely to protect their children, to drift in a completely different direction: "The therapeutic effect is absent, but undesirable effects still occur and previously effective therapies may no longer be available in the future. "

Many drugs not tested for children Another problem is that the little ones get medicines that are not approved for them, since many drugs are not tested for children. A good third of the funds received were not approved for children. A communication from the University of Erlangen states that this so-called "off-label use" represents a considerable risk. "Contrary to what we know from prescription data, there was a significantly increased number of medications that the children did not take in compliance with the approval," explained Neubert. The EU already issued a drug regulation in 2007, which obliges pharmaceutical companies to test every new drug in studies with children. The first signs of progress are now becoming apparent.

Parents need to be informed Neubert's conclusion: “We assume that parents, for fear of undesirable drug effects, prefer to give a little less medicine than was prescribed by the doctor or as can be read in the package insert. After all, you don't want to withhold the drug entirely. ”What is needed here is an urgent education of the parents. The partly still used rule “half the dose in children” has long been outdated, since it makes far too little differentiation.

Culture of cautious use of medicinal products The results of the Erlangen study are based on the data from the Robert Koch Institute's Study on Child and Adolescent Health in Germany (KiGGS). In this, over 17,000 children and adolescents or their parents were systematically asked about their medication intake in the past weeks. At the moment it is not possible to say to what extent the observations could also apply to other countries. “In Germany, we have a culture in which medicines are used rather cautiously. The high proportion of homeopathic and phytopharmaceuticals makes this clear. It is therefore all the more necessary to provide comprehensive information and to eradicate false prejudices so that our children are adequately treated with medicinal products and still receive maximum protection, ”says Neubert. (ad)

Image: Helene Souza / pixelio.de

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