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Measuring medicine? Don't use kitchen spoons

People who use kitchen spoons to measure medicine typically end up with too big or too small a dose, new research shows.

Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab and author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, led a study published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine showing that a group of almost 200 graduate students using kitchen spoons routinely mismeasured medicine, sometimes pouring as much as 20 percent too much. That excess could add up to danger over the course of an illness, Wansink notes, especially when the medicine is being administered to a child. Pouring too little could of course lessen the medicine's effectiveness, too.

So if grabbing a teaspoon from the kitchen drawer won't do, what should we use to measure meds? A measuring cap, dosing spoon, measuring dropper or a dosing syringe, Wansink advises.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  January 5, 2010; 11:37 AM ET
Categories:  Family Health  
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Who uses a "teaspoon" (which I assume means small kitchen spoon, not a teaspoon measure) to administer medication? Especially to children? If you're in the kitchen, you probably have an actual teaspoon measure available! And all of those medications come with a dosing cup or dropper...

Posted by: a1231 | January 5, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I had forgotten that I had a set of measuring spoons in my medicine cabinet - from back when the liquid medicines didn't come with dosing cups. I've reclaimed the measuring spoons for use in the kitchen since I no longer need them in the medicine cabinet. (All the liquid medicines that I have come with dosing cups.)

Posted by: msienkiewicz | January 5, 2010 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Most if not all liquid medications today come with their own dosing cups!

Tracy, Velocity Fulfillment

Posted by: VelocityFulfillment | January 6, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

This seems really silly to me. Let's say the advised dosage for a 6 year old child is X. Don't you think the real optimal dosage will vary by much more than 20% of X based on the child's weight and metabolism and other unique physical characteristics? There are other more important things to worry about than being off on cough medicine by 20%. The same probably goes for prescription meds, but I agree more caution is called for there.

Posted by: kent_eng | January 6, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

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