Mother's Medication Use Mirrored in Kids

Children use over the counter pain meds more often if their mothers do

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) A variety of over-the-counter medications are available for pain, including the popular use of acetaminophen (Tylenol). But overuse of these products can be harmful.

Therefore, it is important that parents teach their children when it is and is not appropriate to use these medications.

A recent study found that mothers' use of medications appears to be related to their children's use of these products. The more often mothers use over-the-counter pain medications, the more often their children appear to use them as well — regardless of their pain levels.

"Ask your pediatrician about over-the-counter medications."

The study, led by Janne Fangel Jensen, MD, of the Department of Public Health at the University of Copehagen in Denmark, looked at whether children's use of over-the-counter pain medications was related to their mothers' use of similar products.

The researchers conducted surveys involving 131 children, aged 6 to 11, and their mothers.

The families came from two different parts of Denmark — one rural and one urban.

The researchers interviewed the children in person and gave questionnaires to the mothers to learn about the participants' health, pain experiences and use of medication.

In analyzing their results, the researchers took into account differences between the participants' socioeconomic conditions and health.

The researchers found that mothers who frequently used over-the-counter pain medications (at least once a month), especially acetaminophen, were more likely to have children who frequently used these medications.

Frequent use of these medications among the children was considered to be at least every other month or more.

This finding was true even if the researchers took into account different levels of pain the children experienced.

In other words, regardless of whether one child experienced greater or less pain than another, the child whose mother frequently used over-the-counter pain medications more often had three times greater odds of using them more often himself or herself.

The researchers did not find that children used over-the-counter medications more or less based on how often or how severely they experienced pain.

Differences in the mother's health, including her pain, her medical history of chronic disease and her daily medication use also did not appear to influence children's use of over-the-counter pain medications.

The authors therefore concluded that parents need good information about pain management to help them teach their children healthy habits in using over-the-counter medication.

The study was published January 6 in the journal Pediatrics. The research was funded by the Danish PLU Foundation and the European Union. The authors reported no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
January 10, 2014
Last Updated:
January 10, 2014