Two-thirds of parents may be inappropriately using over-the-counter pain-relieving medicines they buy for their children, according to a new study.
Some were giving medicine to help children sleep on a long car journey, even though the medicines were of no use in such circumstances.
The study found that despite 90pc of parents buying the medicines from chemists, only a quarter consulted the pharmacist on how it should be used and 14pc did not look at the label.
More than half said they would use the incorrect medicine for a particular symptom.
They would use suppositories when a child had diarrhoea, the findings in the 'Irish Medical Journal' revealed.
More than three-fifths were also using the medicines for the wrong purpose, including if a child was misbehaving.
They were also poor at recognising the potential side effects of the medicines.
The research also revealed that patients with private health insurance were more likely to use the drugs appropriately than parents with a medical card.
The authors in Cork University Hospital looked at 183 parents with an average age of 34 years who were attending three GP medical centres.
Parents need more information and guidance on the use of over-the-counter medicines, they said.
It should be possible to restrict availability to pharmacies and ensure there is a discussion with a pharmacist prior to sale.
This would be similar to measures implemented by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI) to increase awareness and reduce consumption of codeine-containing products.