Monday, January 13th, 2014
Mothers who regularly use over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen are more likely to medicate their children more often, using similar medications, according to a new study conducted by Danish researchers. More from Reuters:
More parents are giving OTC medications, such as acetaminophen, to their young children, often without the advice of health care professionals, the study team says.
“Half of all the medications used worldwide are non-prescription – it is a huge and growing industry under limited control from the health care system,” Dr. Janne Fangel Jensen, who led the research, told Reuters Health by email.
Jensen is a researcher with the Department of Public Health at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, in Denmark.
Acetaminophen – sold as paracetamol outside of the U.S. – is the most widely used drug in many developed countries. It’s a safe treatment for many forms of mild pain and has few known side effects, Jensen said.
But overdosing with acetaminophen can be dangerous, she cautioned. “In my opinion it is important to limit the use of paracetamol to when it is indicated and to prevent an increasing ‘over-medication’ especially in children.”
To gauge whether a mother’s use of painkillers influences how often children take the drugs, the researchers surveyed mothers of 131 Danish children ages 6 to 11.
Jensen and his colleagues asked how often the children were given non-prescription pain relievers during the previous three months and during the past year. They also asked how often the children had felt pain. In addition, there were questions about the mothers’ use of medication and general health.
The researchers found that 45 percent of the children had been given OTC pain relievers, mostly acetaminophen, during the previous three months. And 22 percent were given acetaminophen at least every other month for the previous year.
One-third of the mothers said they had chronic pain and 39 percent reported taking OTC pain relievers at least once per month, Jensen’s team reports in Pediatrics.
The researchers discovered that mothers who believed their children had recurrent pain tended to give them acetaminophen at least every other month.
And, in general, mothers who took pain relievers themselves every month also reported giving acetaminophen to their children more often during the previous three months.
“Our main finding is that mothers who use more OTC analgesics themselves have a tendency to also give it more often to their children,” Jensen said.
Image: Child having medicine, via Shutterstock
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Friday, July 19th, 2013
The simple act of listening to music has been found to reduce the amount of pain children perceive when they’re in the emergency room, a new study by medical researchers at the University of Alberta has found. More from ScienceDaily.com:
The team conducted a clinical research trial of 42 children between the ages of 3 and 11 who came to the pediatric emergency department at the Stollery Children’s Hospital and needed IVs. Some of the children listened to music while getting an IV, while others did not. Researchers measured the children’s distress, perceived pain levels and heart rates, as well as satisfaction levels of parents, and satisfaction levels of health-care providers who administered the IVs. The trial took place between January 2009 and March 2010.
“We did find a difference in the children’s reported pain — the children in the music group had less pain immediately after the procedure,” says Hartling. “The finding is clinically important and it’s a simple intervention that can make a big difference. Playing music for kids during painful medical procedures would be an inexpensive and easy-to-use intervention in clinical settings.”
The research showed that the children who listened to music reported significantly less pain, some demonstrated significantly less distress, and the children’s parents were more satisfied with care.
In the music listening group, 76 per cent of health-care providers said the IVs were very easy to administer — a markedly higher number than the non-music group where only 38 per cent of health-care providers said the procedure was very easy. Researchers also noticed that the children who had been born premature experienced more distress overall.
Image: Music, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, November 3rd, 2011
Children who have appendectomies or broken limbs are not given adequate narcotic pain medication, which leads to more hospital re-admissions than necessary, a new study in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery has found.
Thirteen percent of kids under age 18 who had had appendectomies reported pain that lingered for months, CNN.com reports. “Children are not being given enough pain medication, and they’re suffering needlessly,” Dr. Zeev Kain, senior author of the study and a pediatric anesthesiologist at the University of California, Irvine, told CNN.
The issue is two-f0ld, researchers found, a combination of doctors being reticent to send powerful pain medications home with parents, and parents who are nervous about giving their children the painkillers. But the study’s authors say that if doctors educate parents and write short-term prescriptions, and if parents carefully follow their doctors’ instructions about proper use of the drugs, their children can experience significant pain relief with minimal risk.
CNN offers advice for parents on how to manage post-surgical pain in children:
Pediatric pain experts have these tips for parents:
1. Ask your doctor about pain medication before your child leaves the hospital
If you think your child is in pain or will be in pain once you return home from the hospital, ask about pain medication.
“And if your child was on something for pain in the hospital, ask why they’re not continuing it when they go home,” Petitti advises.
2. Ask your doctor when to give the medication
Ask if you should give your child medication before the pain starts or only if they’re in pain, or if you should give the medication before your child tries to do a physical activity such as walking.
“You need to be really aggressive in terms of asking questions,” Kain advises.
3. Fill out your child’s prescription before you get home
When you arrive home with a sick child after a surgery or visit to the ER, it’s often tough to leave that child to go get the medication. Kain advises filling the prescription on the way home or at the hospital pharmacy if your hospital has one.
4. Recognize when your child is in pain
Once you get home, remember that a child won’t always cry, scream, or complain when they’re in pain, pediatric pain experts say. Some children in pain become quiet and withdrawn or have trouble eating or sleeping.
Unfortunately, both parents and doctors sometimes miss the pain in the quiet kids.
A 2008 study titled “The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease” showed that a day after having a broken limb treated in the emergency room, 20% of children received no pain medication, and 44% received only one dose. The children who were most likely to get medication were those who were loud and cried a lot.
Children in certain ethnic groups may be less likely to say they’re in pain because their culture places a high value on appearing stoic. Some studies have shown that Hispanics, for example, are less likely to talk about pain and ask for medicine.
5. Think about other ways to address the pain besides drugs
Alternative methods such as aromatherapy, acupuncture and music can be extremely helpful for kids in pain, Kain says.
Another technique is particularly powerful: distraction.
“You should definitely acknowledge your child’s pain by saying something like ‘Poor baby, I know it hurts to move, but then you should quickly move on to a solution,” Kain says. “You can say ‘let’s go for a drive’ or ‘let’s read a book’ or ‘let’s plan your birthday party together.’ Don’t just let your child lie there miserably on the sofa.”
(image via: http://www.123rf.com/)
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