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Why it is dangerous to give your child medicine without prescription

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In this part of the world, it is common for parents, both educated and illiterates to begin administering drugs to their children few days after birth which is against the conventional medical practice. Most of these drugs according to findings, are usually not prescribed by paediatricians or qualified pharmacists.

As gathered, the habit of using drugs for children right from infancy is usually passed down by parents from one generation to another. It is common to hear grandparents tell their children: “I used the same drugs for you when you were born. It has been tested and trusted and that is enough confirmation for these young and inexperienced mothers to take to their own mothers’ practice unabatedly. Some of the commonly used medicines for babies are Afravite Multivitamin, Nospamin, Abidec, Gripe water, teething powder, among others.

Experts have now warned that administering some of these medicines such as multivitamins and pain relievers to children, if not prescribed by medical professionals is called self medication. This practice has been condemned on several occasions by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigerian (PSN).

The arbitrary use of medicine for children especially those under two years often cause more serious damages to their body organs and in some cases death. Findings show that medicines commonly used by parents are pain relief medicines, herbal medications (e.g. agbo jedi) and sedatives.  Though pain relief like paracetamol can be obtained without prescription, it is not safe to use it too often as it can lead to poisoning or liver failure, experts have said.

In a chat with Xquisite Health, Mrs Helen Oduntan, Chairman, Association of Lady Pharmacists (ALPS), Oyo State chapter, hospital pharmacist and Fellow of West Africa College of Pharmacists said:” This habit (or tradition) is wrong and dangerous to the well being of the baby. The baby’s organs of absorption and excretion are still very tender and cannot cope with these medicines.

‘’Medicines are not food and should not be given to babies without prescription.  We, members of the Association of Lady Pharmacists (ALPS Oyo State) discovered that many parents give their babies multivitamin, pain and fever medicines routinely.  This is usually done from an “ajogba” and given to babies after their bath in the morning. This is drug abuse and should be discouraged.

“Apart from the danger to the baby’s tender organs, the baby’s system gets accustomed to some of these medicines so much that when the baby falls ill,  these first line medicines (which the baby has been exposed to prematurely) are not effective and stronger (and more toxic) medicines have to be prescribed  for common ailments.

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“Children are given medicines if they cry or sneeze! Before taking little girls to salon to make their hair, some parents give paracetamol!  If they are restless, parents bring out the sleep medicines. Parents should endeavour to find the cause of the crying or restlessness instead of just giving medicines.”

She advised that, “When a child is running a fever, clinical thermometer should be used to determine the child’s temperature. If the temperature is below 38C, parents should remove the clothing, give him or her bath with room temperature and continue to clean the body with a soft towel soaked in room temperature water at close intervals.  If the child’s temperature is however above 38C, it is advised that paracetamol syrup should be given at recommended dose according to the age or weight of the child.”

On the implications of parents giving their children drugs without consulting experts, Oduntan said, “many parents have unknowingly caused irreversible damage or even death of their children through self medication.”

She posited that ”children’s lives are precious and should not be toyed with by giving them medicines suggested by friends, family, Internet postings (including Whatsapp forwarded messages) since each child is unique and cause of discomfort  (pain , fever and other ailments) may differ from child to child.

“Health professionals like doctors and pharmacists are trained to make their diagnosis based on several factors and investigations. Parents should be encouraged to contact them whenever the need arises. These professionals also know their limitations and will refer parents for specialist care if necessary,” Oduntan said.

The post Why it is dangerous to give your child medicine without prescription appeared first on Tribune.

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