The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence and concomitant use of prescription medicines and self-medication, including over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, vitamins, and complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) among Finnish children aged under 12 years.
We carried out a nationwide postal survey of the use of medicines by a representative sample (n?=?6000) of Finnish children aged under 12 years in spring 2007. A response rate of 67% (n?=?4032) was achieved. The current use of prescription medicines and the use of OTC medicines, vitamins, and CAMs in the preceding 2 days were the main outcome measures.
In total, 17% of children had used prescription medicines and 50% some self-medication. The corresponding figures for OTC medicines, vitamins, and CAMs use were 17, 37, and 11%, respectively. Drugs for obstructive airway diseases were the most common prescription medicines, whereas analgesics and antipyretics, including non-steroidal-anti-inflammatory-medicines (NSAID), were the most common OTC medicines reported. Vitamin D was the most common vitamin, while fish oils and fatty acids were the most common CAMs used. Ten percent of the children had used prescription medicines and self-medication concomitantly.
Most of the children's medication consists of self-medication, and especially of vitamin use. However, also a considerable proportion had used prescription medicines, and a minority prescription medicines and self-medication concomitantly. In three of the cases, a combination of prescription and OTC medicine with a potential risk for interactions were found. Physicians should be aware of this wide use of self-medication when prescribing medicines.