Parents not careful with sick children

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 April, 2006, 12:00am

Most don't call a doctor at once and resort to home remedies

Rubbing the bodies of sick children with alcohol is among the home treatments revealed in a survey that shows less than half the parents take their children to the doctor every time they fall sick.

Thirty-eight per cent of parents chose to feed feverish children medicine previously prescribed by their doctors, the survey, carried out by the Hong Kong Paediatric Foundation, found. The one-month survey of 2,378 parents with children under the age of six was carried out after February.

One in every six parents held the traditional view that it was good for children to get sick because they would grow taller after recovering.

Twelve per cent believed it was impossible to prevent diseases.

Jason Yeung Chung-him, executive committee member of the foundation, said parents put their children at serious health risk if they resorted to home remedies rather than take them to the doctor.

'Rubbing children's bodies with alcohol may cause skin allergies and could even hurt them if the alcohol gets into their eyes by accident,' Dr Yeung said. 'It would be even more dangerous if parents feed their children with drugs previously prescribed by doctors or with over-the-counter drugs. Parents are not doctors and therefore they should not treat their children in their own ways.'

The warning came after the survey showed only 47 per cent of parents would consult doctors every time their children fell sick.

Sixty-three per cent said they would immediately consult doctors if the children developed fever. But 10 per cent would buy over-the-counter drugs first and consult doctors only after the drugs did not work.

Eighty-nine per cent said fever was the symptom that worried them most, followed by convulsion (56 per cent) and vomiting and panting (49 per cent).

Dr Yeung said parents should not underestimate those symptoms as they might be linked to serious diseases, such as meningitis and gastrointestinal diseases.

The survey also found only 64 per cent of parents had a paediatrician or family doctor for their children. But 43 per cent said they would shift to another doctor if the condition of their children did not improve on the third day of treatment. Sixty per cent would change doctors if there was no improvement after the second visit to the same doctor.

Foundation chairman Chow Chok-wan said parents should not shop around for doctors.

'They should stay patient as it is normal for viral infections to take about five days to a week to recede,' Dr Chow said.

'It is not a good practice to keep switching from one doctor to another. Instead, parents should consult their own doctors on whether they should make a referral to other doctors if the conditions of their children have not improved.

'In one case, I have seen a parent taking her child to seven doctors in one day.'