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Many parents nurse their children through at least one of the typical wintertime illnesses. While no parent likes to have a sick child, many may unwittingly slow their recovery by not giving them medicines properly.

There are, according to Dr. Frank E. Young, U.S. commissioner of food and drugs, four general ways in which parents improperly dispense medication to their children:

Stopping a medication too soon.

Not giving enough per dose.

Not giving the medicine at all.

Giving too much.

In an article in FDA Consumer, he advises parents to make sure they understand -- from product labeling, the physician or the pharmacist -- four important pieces of information before they give medicine to their children: what the medicine is for, how much to give, when to give it and how long to give it.

When using over-the-counter medications, don't just give the child a fraction of the adult dose, he said. If a children's dosage is not recommended on the label, don't use the medication until a physician is consulted.

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