The method used by nurses and other healthcare professionals to determine penicillin doses for children needs to be changed, researchers have claimed.
Rather than determine the dose based on the child’s age, which is the current common practice, researchers from King’s College London and St George’s, University of London, believe they should be calculated using the child’s weight as youngsters are getting heavier.
For example, the average five-year-old now weighs 21kg and the average 10-year-old tips the scales at 37kg. These average weights are about a fifth heavier than those recorded in 1963, the study team revealed.
By administering penicillin doses based on a child’s age, they concluded that, in some cases, a child could not be getting a big enough dose. They went on to reveal that this practice could lead to greater resistance to antibiotics “with consequences for both the individual and the community”.
The researchers said: “This is a real concern because clinically inadequate dosing would increase the number needed to treat to prevent any severe complications.”
They added: “The widely used doses of 62.5mg or 125mg are fractions of the adult dose recommended in the British National Formulary (BNF) and are still based on the original dosing principle of a big child equals half an adult, small child equals half a big child, baby equals half a small child.”
Writing in the British Medical Journal, the researchers went on to voice the surprise at the lack of recent evidence to support current dosing recommendations for penicillins.