• Question: what drugs should i give to my kids when i'm older??

    Asked by elliotthasasixpack on 11 Jun 2019.
    • Photo: Rebecca Moon

      Rebecca Moon answered on 11 Jun 2019:


      There is no reason to give healthy children any particular drugs. It is recommended that we all take a vitamin D supplement in autumn and winter as we are unable to make sufficient vitamin d during those months. Vitamin d is made by the action of sunlight on the skin and is really important for bone health, that’s why its recommended. Children under 5 should take the supplement all year round.

      If a child has pain or temperature, then their parents can give them paracetamol or ibuprofen at home. But if they are unwell then the child should be reviewed by their GP/family doctor.

    • Photo: Nina Rzechorzek

      Nina Rzechorzek answered on 11 Jun 2019:


      This is a really interesting question. Currently, as Rebecca has explained, there is little reason to give any ‘drugs’ to healthy children. However, as we are learning more and more about brain disease, we are realising that it might be necessary to start some ‘treatment approaches’ much earlier in life in order to prevent humans getting e.g. dementia or cancer later on. Such ‘preventative medicine’ approaches might not involve ‘drugs’ in the classical sense, it might involve new types of vaccine, or specific lifestyle choices e.g. diet and exercise levels. I think we are a long way off considering applying such treatments in children – for a start it would be incredibly difficult to run an ethically-sound, well controlled trial over the course of a lifetime to confirm that a ‘treatment’ given in childhood prevented an age-related disorder, and we would have to have a very high level of confidence that no harm would be caused. It also raises important ethical questions – i.e. would you risk causing harm to your child with a preventative treatment for an illness that they might never get in say 50 years time? We have to weigh up the benefits and the risks. Current childhood vaccination programmes protect children from life-threatening infections such as measles, and the risk of a vaccine causing any harm is extremely low – that is why they are recommended and there is a lot of scientific evidence supporting these recommendations.

      For age-related diseases, what we can already do is look at people of a certain age, compare those who have with those who have not developed a disease and then ask – what was different about their lifestyle choices, or the drugs/environment factors they might have been exposed to earlier on? This will only ever give us ‘correlative data’ i.e. it will ‘associate’ a disease with certain lifetime risk factors but it cannot prove ’cause and effect’. Similarly we can perform longitudinal ‘cohort’ studies where we take a group of people that share a potential ‘risk factor’ or ‘protective factor’ that we might be interested in and follow them over time to see how many of them develop a disease. Such longitudinal studies clearly take a very long time, can cost a lot of money, and usually require large numbers of people to be studied.

      When it comes to your own children, I recommend taking the advice of your GP about what vaccines or supplements to give. One of the biggest campaigns at the moment is about developing ‘resilience’ in kids so that they are better equipped to look after their mental health throughout life – protecting our mental health and wellbeing is just as important as looking after our physical health. I think the meaning of the words ‘drug’, ‘treatment’ and ‘vaccine’ are likely to change a lot over the next 10-20 years as we get better at making diagnoses earlier, and better at developing ‘personalised medicines’.

    • Photo: Marianne King

      Marianne King answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      All the recommended vaccinations 🙂 I don’t feel medically qualified to offer any advice other than that, I shall leave that to the doctors! 🙂

    • Photo: Kate Timms

      Kate Timms answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      I second that all children should be given the appropriate vaccinations. Also, it’s really important to get vaccinated for flu and whooping cough when you’re pregnant. Getting these diseases when you’re pregnant can be very dangerous for your baby. Plus, if you get vaccinated against them whilst you’re pregnant, your baby will benefit by becoming immune to them for a short while too!
      You can also pass immunity against diseases from yourself to your baby by breastfeeding, which is pretty incredible.

    • Photo: Alex Blenkinsop

      Alex Blenkinsop answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      In the UK, we are lucky to have a regulatory body, NICE (the National Institute for Healthcare and Excellence) who gather all the evidence on all the available drugs and treatments for each kind of illness (e.g. results from all clinical trials and studies) and make guidelines on which ones your doctor should be prescribing (based on how they work, side effects and cost to the NHS). This means you can trust your doctor to be giving you and your children the best option available based on real evidence.

    • Photo: Kaitlin Wade

      Kaitlin Wade answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      I’m definitely not medically qualified to give an appropriate answer and everyone else has answered the question so well!!

    • Photo: Matthew Bareford

      Matthew Bareford answered on 14 Jun 2019:


      ummm, I wouldn’t give them any ‘drugs’ per say… Medicines when needed yes, but not any ‘drugs’.

      I would say that (hopefully) your doctor would know when any medication was needed and when it was not, so you can trust their advice.

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