Self medication in children and adolescents


  • Nídia Belo Department of Pediatrics, Hospital do Espírito Santo de Évora
  • Patrícia Maio Department of Pediatrics, Hospital do Espírito Santo de Évora
  • Susana Gomes Department of Pediatrics, Hospital do Espírito Santo de Évora



Drug utilization, pediatrics, self medication


Self-medication in children and adolescents consists in the administration of drugs to them by their parents or by themselves (in the case of older children and adolescents), without prior medical observation. National data on the prevalence and safety of this practice are scarce. This study aimed to assess the prevalence of self-medication in children, identifying the most used drugs and the main motivational factors for this practice. A cross-sectional, observational, descriptive and retrospective study was undertaken. Convenience sample was obtained from online and self-administered surveys to parents/caregivers of children and adolescents. 209 surveys were collected, containing data of children up to 17 years old (median 2 years old), without gender difference. Most participants (64%), reported having selfmedicated their children, 24% in the previous month. The notion that it would be a simple health problem and the recommendation of the same drug in a similar previous situation were the main motivational factors. Antipyretics were the most used drugs (paracetamol in 84,7% and ibuprofen in 53,1%), with a wide variability of the administered dosage. Antitussives / mucolytics, antiemetics and antidiarrheals were used by 26% of the sample. The adverse reactions that result from self-medication were reported in 1,4%. The prevalence of self-medication in this study was high, which is consistent with the international studies. The main used drugs are over-the-counter. This study highlights the high use of drugs without proven effectiveness or not recommended for children. The inadequate child’s dosage was one of the risk factors identified in the study, including some cases with potential toxicity. It’s necessary to inform the parents of the consequences of improper self medication and instruct them for responsible practice.


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How to Cite

Belo N, Maio P, Gomes S. Self medication in children and adolescents. REVNEC [Internet]. 2017Dec.27 [cited 2023Dec.2];26(4):234-9. Available from:



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