Almost a third of parents using medicines to get child to sleep, claims health expert

It has been claimed that nearly a third of Irish parents use over-the-counter medicine to get their child to sleep.

Dr Aisling Garvey, who works at Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin, surveyed 183 parents through GP practices in Cork and Kerry.

She says up to 30% of people admitted misusing medicines like Calpol and Nurofen to get them to sleep at night or on long car journeys.

Dr Garvey, a senior house officer in paediatrics, believes restricting availability of the medicines to pharmacies, and ensuring people only get them after consulting with a chemist, would help the situation.

Bernard Duggan, pharmacist and honorary Treasurer of the Irish Pharmacy Union said: "It is important to ensure the safe use of both over-the-counter and prescription medicines as some medicines are only suitable for adults and not for children.

"Medicine dosages for children should be adjusted according to the age and weight of the child.

"Too little medication can be ineffective and too much medication can be harmful. Also, different medications have different concentrations of ingredients. The best approach is to ask your pharmacist first for advice.

"If a parent notices any adverse side effects having given their child medication (other than that outlined by their pharmacist) such as a rash, hives, vomiting or diarrhoea or has trouble breathing or swallowing, they should seek immediate medical assistance."

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