Your Health

Bad Reactions To Medicine Common In Kids

If you take your kid to the doctor, there's about a 70 percent chance you'll walk out with the child having got a shot or instructions to take some sort of medicine.

bad reactions to medicines are common. i i

Be watchful for kids' reactions to medicines. iStockphoto.com hide caption

itoggle caption iStockphoto.com
bad reactions to medicines are common.

Be watchful for kids' reactions to medicines.

iStockphoto.com

Afterward, there's a possibility of a bad reaction. Nearly 600,000 times a year, kids head to the ER, clinic or doctor's office because of problems with medicines they took, say researchers who crunched more than a decade's worth of federal data. The findings were just published online by the journal Pediatrics.

The youngest kids—newborns to 4-year-olds—accounted for 43 percent of the visits, making them the most likely to run into trouble. Antibiotics were the most common culprit, especially for the youngest kids. Those first doses of antibiotic, often penicillin or related medicines, are the ones that can reveal an allergy. For young children there's a higher risk of errors in medication dosing, and youngsters are more sensitive to those kinds of mistakes, too.

For adolescents antibiotics were still the biggest problems, though they were less pronounced than for the youngsters. In older children, drugs for the central nervous system (think ADHD meds and antidepressants) and birth control pills were almost as troublesome.

We talked about the findings with the lead study author Florence Bourgeois, a pediatrician in the emergency medicine department at Children's Hospital in Boston. She said the results should spur more conversation between doctors and parents about what to watch for but aren't cause for alarm.

"Benefits of treatment with medicines usually outweigh the risks," she told us. About 1 percent or less of children treated as outpatients have problems with their medicines, she told us, citing previous research.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.