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Medication Usage High in U.S. Children Under 12

National survey shows that 56 percent of children used at least one medication in a given week

MONDAY, July 27 (HealthDay News) -- In any given week, more than half of American children under the age of 12 years take at least one medication, and about one-quarter take multiple medications, primarily over-the-counter products, according to a study published in the August issue of Pediatrics.

Louis Vernacchio, M.D., of Boston University, and colleagues from the Slone Survey telephoned parents or guardians of 2,857 children (ages 0 to 11 years) between February 1998 and April 2007 and obtained a survey response rate of 61 percent.

The researchers found that during the seven days prior to the interview, 56 percent of children had taken at least one medication, and that the usage rates for two, three, four, and at least five medications were 15, 7.1, 3.1, and 1.9 percent, respectively. The most commonly used over-the-counter products were multivitamins, acetamenophin alone, and ibuprofen alone. They also found that 20 percent of children had taken at least one prescription medication, the most common of which were amoxicillin, albuterol, and multivitamins with fluoride.

"Given this large amount of medication exposure, it is essential to continue to monitor the use of medications by children as part of ongoing efforts to ensure the safety of these products," the authors conclude.

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