U.S. parents' poor math hurts drug dosing

May 5, 2012 at 12:58 AM
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NEW YORK, May 5 (UPI) -- The poor math skills of many U.S parents increase the likelihood a parent will give a child the wrong dosage of medication, researchers said.

Dr. H. Shonna Yin, an assistant professor of pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital Center who was the study's co-author, said previous research showed those with low reading skills were more likely to make mistakes in measuring the correct amount of medicine.

The researchers looked at the relationship between both reading and math skills, and medication dosing errors. The nearly 300 study participants had children age 8 or younger, who were prescribed a short course of liquid medication after being seen in a pediatric emergency department.

Caregivers who spoke either English or Spanish and were the primary person responsible for administering the medication were given three tests to assess their reading and math skills.

Researchers watched parents as they measured out a dose of the medication for their child.

The study found nearly 1-in-3 parents had low reading skills, while 83 percent of parents had poor numeracy skills and 27 percent had skills at the third-grade level or below.

The findings were presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Boston.

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