Parents with poor math skills are nearly five times more likely to measure incorrect doses of medicine for their children, according to research presented over the weekend at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting.
For the study, researchers monitored 289 parents of children under the age of nine who were prescribed a short course of liquid medication after visiting a pediatric ED. They assessed the parents as they measured out doses of the prescribed medications and asked each parent to complete three math and reading assessments.
The researchers found that about 33% of the parents had low reading skills and 83% had poor math skills, of which about 27% had math skills at the third-grade level or lower. They also found that 41% of parents made a dosing-error when administering medications to their child.
Based on the findings, the researchers determined that parents with math skills at or below the third-grade level were nearly five times more likely to make a dosing error than those will skills at the sixth-grade level or higher.
Study co-author H. Shonna Yin—an assistant professor of pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital Center—said the findings "point to a need to examine whether strategies that specifically address parent math skills can help reduce medication errors in children."
The study authors also said that having health care providers give parents pictures of dosing instruments filled to the correct amount could prevent errors (Preidt, HealthDay, 4/28).