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Children And Medications (Including Financial Assistance)


Children are much more sensitive than adults when it comes to the effects of any medication. Providing the correct medication and dosage is of utmost importance.

There are common sense rules to keep in mind, each of which are described in other sections of this article:

  • Keep all medicines out of reach of children.
    • Store medications where children can't see or reach them, for example in a locked box or cabinet. Even common over-the-counter items, such as iron supplements, are very toxic to children.
    • Use Child Resistant Caps
    • Never leave containers uncapped.
  • Check with your doctor before giving a child aspirin products or more than one drug.
    • Never give aspirin to a child or teenager who has, or is recovering from chickenpox or the flu. In such patients, aspirin has been associated with an increased risk of Reye Syndrome, a rare but serious illness. To safely treat fever in children, use products such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), or ibuprofen (Motrin), that contains no aspirin.
    • Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before giving a child more than one medicine at a time.
  • Keep in mind that over-the-counter medications are indeed drugs and can be powerful. Be cautious.
    • When giving a child an over-the-counter medication, make certain the drug is safe for children. If the drug label does not list a pediatric dose, do not assume that it is safe for children under the age of 12. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist before administering the medication.
    • Don't give a child under the age of two an over-the-counter drug without first consulting with your doctor.
  • Only give liquids in proper dosage.
    • Many medications for young children are given in liquid form, ranging from Tylenol to antibiotics. It is essential that children's doses be correct. A low body weight does not allow much room for dosing errors. For medications in liquid form:
      • Examine dose cups carefully. Cups may be marked with various measurement units and may not use standard abbreviations. Follow label directions. Never substitute a dosing cup from another product. NOTE: It is not recommended that you use household teaspoons or tablespoons for dosing, as these items can actually vary in size and may not provide an accurate measurement.
      • Never guess when converting measuring units, for example teaspoons or tablespoons to ounces. Consult your doctor or pharmacist.
      • Never try to remember the dose used during previous illnesses, read the label each time. Children are more sensitive than adults to dosage errors.
  • Uses syringes appropriate to the need. Check with your doctor about the proper procedure to use.
  • Never use a medicine for a use not described on the label unless directed by a doctor.

Financial assistance may be available to pay for a child's health insurance or costs of health care.  A federal/state program known as SCHIP is available to help obtain health insurance for children of families with limited income. There are also private organizations that may be able to provide financial assistance paying for medications or health insurance costs. For instance:

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