Posts Tagged ‘medication’

Treating for Two: Medication safety before and during pregnancy

Thursday, May 17th, 2018


During National Women’s Health Week this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) wants to raise awareness about the safety of medicines before and during pregnancy. March of Dimes supports them with this important message.

Many women wonder about the safety of medications during pregnancy. This is a great question that should be addressed. However the information to make educated decisions at times is limited. With this in mind, the CDC revamped their Treating for Two website to make this information easier to access.

Treating for Two is a program that provides information and resources to help women and their health care providers decide together what medication is best. CDC created this website to help close this information gap and to provide evidence-based guidance. This program will support shared decision making among women and their providers regarding medication safety before, during and after pregnancy.

According to the CDC, 9 out of 10 women in the United States take a medication during pregnancy. Chances are that you may need to take a medication during pregnancy or during the first weeks of pregnancy, when you might not even know that you are pregnant. Make sure you always discuss with your provider the safety of the medications he or she prescribes to you. Let him know if you think you are pregnant or if you have been trying to get pregnant. Some medications may cause premature birth, birth defects, neonatal abstinence syndrome (also called NAS), miscarriage, developmental disabilities and other health problems.

What can you do?

If you need to take medications during pregnancy, discuss with your provider all your concerns. Also make sure you:

  • Take the medication exactly as your provider says to take it.
  • Don’t take it with alcohol or other drugs. (Don’t take alcohol or drugs if you are pregnant.)
  • Don’t take someone else’s medication.
  • Don’t stop taking a prescription medicine without talking to your provider first.
  • Ask your provider if you need to switch your medication to one that is safer during your pregnancy.
  • Discuss with your provider all the medications you take, like: over-the-counter medicines, herbal and dietary supplements and vitamins.

For more information about prescription and over-the counter medications visit

Medication before and during pregnancy

Monday, July 24th, 2017

Did you know that 7 out of 10 pregnant women take at least one prescription medication? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the use of prescription medicine during the first trimester of pregnancy has increased more than 60% over the last 30 years. In the video below, Dr. Siobhan Dolan explains how taking some prescription medicines before or during pregnancy can hurt your baby. Learn how to make sure any medicines you take are safe for both you and your baby.




Have questions? Send them to our Health Education Specialists at

Medication dosing mistakes are common

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

medicine syringe for kidsWhether you have a child with special needs or not, chances are you have given him medication at some point. A recent study published in Pediatrics revealed that many parents made mistakes when giving their child medication. “Medication errors were common: 39.4% of parents made an error in measurement of the intended dose, 41.1% made an error in the prescribed dose. Furthermore, 16.7% used a nonstandard instrument.”

The study compared parents who used milliliter-only cups or syringes with parents who used teaspoon or tablespoons to describe how they measured their child’s medicine. The researchers found that parents who described measuring the medication in teaspoons or tablespoons were twice as likely to make a mistake in giving the correct dose.

In addition, many parents did not understand the correct amount of medicine to give their child and mixed up the measuring terms. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “Parent mix up of terms like milliliter, teaspoon and tablespoon contribute to more than 10,000 poison center calls each year.”

Why does this happen?

One reason is because all spoons are not created equal. Dosing mistakes happen because people confuse teaspoons with tablespoons. Did you know that one tablespoon equals three teaspoons?!

Another reason is that people use everyday kitchen spoons instead of medication measuring spoons which are specifically designed to give an accurate dose. Again, the differences in the spoons can produce very different amounts of medicine given to your child.

What can you do?

• When measuring meds, use the oral syringe, dropper, or cup that comes with the medication. Do not use one medicine’s cup for another medicine. Measure carefully and exactly.

• Do not use kitchen teaspoons or tablespoons because there is a wide variety of kitchen spoons which can hold vastly different amounts of liquid.

• If you are giving a non-prescription medication (such as Tylenol or any over-the-counter medicine), be sure to give the dose that is based on your child’s weight, not his age. If in doubt, ask a doctor, nurse, physician assistant or pharmacist.

• Keep a log. Use your smartphone or a notebook to record the medication, date, time and amount that you gave your child. It is very easy to forget when you gave your child a medication, especially if you are giving more than one medication at different times during the day. Parental fatigue, multitasking and stress can also cause you to forget.  In addition, a medication “log” is very important if more than one person is giving medicine to your child.

• If in doubt, ask your child’s health care provider or your pharmacist. It could save your child’s life.

Learn more

• Check out the AAP’s video guide on how to measure meds and read about useful medication tips here.

The study’s authors suggest that children’s liquid medications only be prescribed in milliliters to help eliminate dosing mistakes or confusion. The AAP and CDC support this change. What do you think?

Note:  This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. While on News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” in the Categories menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date (just keep scrolling down). We welcome your comments and input.

Exploring Grandma’s purse

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Grandma's purseMy purse, or pocketbook, holds everything I need, from a hairbrush to my driver’s license, cash, credit cards, a few random crayons and scrap paper, and the medications I need to take. Whereas I thought I was quite clever to carry the crayons and paper, it didn’t occur to me that by doing so I was enticing my grandchild to delve into my bag. Moms, this applies to you, too.

Curiosity is a good thing. It helps us venture forth, stretch our limits, learn new things. But in this case, it might have been deadly. I get headaches and take some meds that could be very dangerous to babies if swallowed like the candy they look like. Do you? Child-proof caps seem more like they are adult-proof to me. Fortunately, our little tike grabbed the bottle in my bag and shook it like a rattle rather than tried to open it. I saw this in less than 30 seconds and substituted a toy for the pills, but it certainly got my attention.

Suggestion: Go through your purse and make sure you know exactly what’s in there. Do you carry a small Swiss Army knife, a sharp nail file, keys you’d rather not get lost? Remove any dangerous items and meds (including over-the-counter pain relievers), but if you need to keep some, try this. Hang your purse on the same hanger as your coat. Carry a separate bag with crayons, paper, finger food, toys, a book or two… that your children or grandchildren can be safe with and delight in exploring.

Keeping track of your child’s records

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

binders_thmWhether your child has a medical condition, disability, receives services through the Early Intervention Program or Special Education, one of the best things you can do is to keep all of your child’s records well organized.

Why is this so important?

If your child is in the early intervention program for babies and toddlers or if he is receiving services through your local school system, you will find that you will amass an enormous amount of paperwork. Keeping it organized will help you tremendously when you need to find documents for IFSP or IEP meetings, visits with other doctors or specialists, and if you need to apply for other programs or services. It is very important that you keep all evaluations and test results so that future specialists can see the history of your child when he evaluates him. Having orderly records will also help you if you need to speak with an attorney in an attempt to try to obtain services you feel your child should rightfully receive.

How should you get organized?

My favorite way to do this is to get an old fashioned three ring binder and put each item in it in chronological order (date order). Put the oldest one on top and the newest one at the bottom (so it reads like a book). You are going to need more than one binder as your child grows, and each one can be labeled a different year (2013, 2014, etc.). This binder method will allow you or your child’s doctors to review your child’s history in a beginning-to-end format. It will also give you a “big picture” of your child, and help you put the details of all the different moving parts into one coherent whole.

What should you put in the binder?

Put everything that is related to your child’s health, disability and education in the binder. This would include:

• Medical records – beginning with your child’s birth (and even your pregnancy if it is applicable or if you have it)
• All evaluation reports
• Your child’s ISFPs and/or IEPs
• Report cards
• Educational test results (such as standardized tests)
• Your notes from meetings or phone calls with school personnel, doctors, or other individuals, with dates
• Notes from your child’s teacher
• Samples of your child’s work
• The business cards of all of your child’s doctors. You can either put them in plastic business card holders, or create a master list of all the doctors with their contact info.
• CDs or thumb drives of electronic information that is on your computer (always back up files!)
• A list of all the medications your child is taking, with the dosage, frequency and prescribing doctor.

Some experts say that it is also helpful to create a one page summary sheet, which is almost like a table of contents. It should list each document, the date the document was created or received, and a brief description of what it is (eg. “John’s neurological evaluation, 2009,” “IEP for 5th grade,” “notes from team meeting on January 12, 2011,” etc.).  This will help you to locate valuable information when you need it quickly (such as right before a meeting or a visit to a new doctor). The more organized you are, the easier it will be to manage your child’s journey.

Some people don’t like the binder method. If you find this does not work for you, then you might find it easier to put all of the above items in a file cabinet (in file folders) in chronological order. Whichever method you choose, just be consistent and label your folders so that you can find things when you need them.

When should you stop keeping these files and records?

Besides needing these records for early intervention or school based services, you may need these records for the high school years and beyond graduation. For example, you may need these records in order for your child to qualify for accommodations for college based entrance exams, such as the SAT or ACT. You will also need these records to support a request for testing accommodations at college. Lastly, many of these records will be required to apply for government benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  So, I suggest that you keep your file system going for as long as your child (or later as an adult) has special needs.

Where can you get more help with this?

I often recommend that parents see the NICHCY legacy information now on the CPIR website,  as they have a Sample Record-Keeping Worksheet. In addition to CPIR, you can also go to Wrightslaw, an extensive website dedicated to helping parents navigate the maze of special education.  They offer concrete advice on how to advocate for your child with special needs. They also have great articles on how to organize your child’s records.  

Bottom line

If you begin your record keeping early, you will not be overwhelmed by the avalanche of papers that will undoubtedly come your way. But, if you did not have a method of record keeping before today, don’t worry. Simply start with today and you can go back and organize prior paperwork another time. Being organized will cut down on the stress that occurs when you feel like you are buried beneath a mountain of paper. You have enough to tend to with your child – it is helpful if the paperwork does not get in your way but rather helps you achieve your goals. Of course, the best part of all is that you will feel more confident and in control of your journey.

Let me know if this helps or if you have other suggestions. What has worked for you?

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It appears every Wednesday, and was started on January 16, 2013. Feel free to go back to look at prior posts as the series builds on itself. As always, we welcome your comments and input.

Pills and pregnancy – what’s safe and what’s not

Friday, January 18th, 2013

pillsYou may have been taking meds for a chronic condition for years. Some are fine to continue during pregnancy and some won’t be safe for a developing baby. It’s important to check with your doc before you conceive, if you’re planning ahead, so that you can be shifted to a safer alternative, if necessary.

But let’s face it, more than half of all pregnancies are not planned. Once you find out, you may have questions about your meds during pregnancy.  So how do you know if what you’re taking is still OK? The most important thing is to talk with your health care provider. He/she knows you and your medical history best and can make whatever adjustments are best for you. Don’t stop taking your medication, however, without your doc’s knowledge.

In the meantime, there is an excellent organization that can help give you valuable information about the safety of medications during pregnancy. The Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS) is a group of highly trained professionals who are dedicated to providing accurate evidence-based, clinical information to patients and health care professionals about medications (prescription or over-the-counter), vaccines, chemical and other exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding.  They can tell you whether a mother’s exposure might be harmful to her baby. Their toll-free number is 866-626-6847 and calls are kept anonymous and confidential. You can read a number of their fact sheets at this link.