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If you're a parent who sucks at math and can't help your child with his numbers, chances are high you'll let him down when he's sick by giving him the wrong dose of medicine.
According to a study that was presented Saturday at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Boston, parents with math skills at the third grade level or below were five times more likely to measure the wrong dose of medication for their child than those with skills at the sixth grade level or higher,
"Our study found that many parents have poor numeracy skills, placing them at risk for making dosing errors," the paper's co-author Dr. H. Shonna Yin said in a statement. "These findings point to a need to examine whether strategies that specifically address parent math skills can help reduce medication errors in children."
For the study, researchers looked at the relationship between both reading and math skills and medication dosing errors. Participants included 289 parents of children younger than 8 years of age who were prescribed a short course of liquid medication after being seen in a pediatric emergency department. Caregivers spoke either English or Spanish and were the primary person responsible for administering the medication.
Caregivers were given three tests to assess their reading and math skills. Researchers also watched parents as they measured out a dose of the medication that had been prescribed for their child.
Study results revealed that nearly one in three parents had low reading skills, while 83% of parents had poor numeracy skills.
The researchers said that 41% of parents made a dosing error and that parents' math scores were associated with measuring mistakes.
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