Report: Parents Unsure When Choosing OTC Allergy Medications for Their Children


Parents often experience difficulties when selecting an allergy medicine for their child, according to responses from a new poll report.

Parents often experience difficulties when selecting an allergy medicine for their child, according to responses from a new poll report.

The report, from the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at the University of Michigan, indicates that parents are faced with a wide range of over-the-counter seasonal allergy relief options without clear guidelines on choosing the right medications.

The poll is based on responses from a national sample of 1066 parents of children aged 6-12 years old. Respondents were asked about their experiences with giving children over-the-counter allergy medications.

More than half of parents reported giving allergy medicine to their children in the past year. Most parents (85%) gave their children allergy medicine they already had in the house, with 18% not checking the expiration date first.

One in 7 parents reported giving children OTC allergy medication labeled for adults, and a third of those gave their child the dose recommended for adults. Two-thirds gave a partial adult dose.

“Parents often face an overwhelming selection of allergy medicine without clear guidelines on how to choose the right one for their child,” poll co-director and Mott pediatrician Gary Freed, MD, MPH, said in a press release. “Some parents may be picking allergy medication based on their interpretation of different advice they’ve heard, which may not always be accurate.”

Sixty-one percent of parents reported receiving advice about allergy medicine from a physician, 38% from a pharmacist, and 32% from family or a friend. Overall, 21% of parents reported having difficulty figuring out the right dose of allergy medicine for their child.

Dr. Freed recommended that parents read the ingredients on the box and match the child’s symptoms to the medicine. Additionally, parents should always be careful to give their child the correct dose, as doses greater than recommended for children can cause more severe adverse events.

With allergy season here, pharmacists can help counsel parents on choosing the right medication that best suits their children.


Parents struggle with choosing allergy medicine for their children [news release]. Michigan. University of Michigan’s website. Accessed April 18, 2017.

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