Self-medication with over-the-counter (OTC) analgesics, such as paracetamol (PCM), among children and adolescents is increasing and constitutes an important public health issue internationally. Reasons for this development are unclear; parental influence is suggested. Our objective was to examine whether self-medication with OTC analgesics among school-aged children is influenced by maternal self-reported health and medicine use, taking the child’s frequency of pain into account.


A quantitative cross-sectional survey was conducted on 131 children aged 6 to 11 years and their mothers in the framework of the Demonstration Of A Study To Coordinate And Perform Human Biomonitoring On A European Scale (DEMOCOPHES) European project. Participants were selected from 1 urban and 1 rural area of Denmark, and equally distributed in age and gender. Data were collected through structured interviews with all children and self-report questionnaires for mothers regarding health, pain, and medicine use.


After adjusting for several sociodemographic and health parameters, maternal use of OTC analgesics was significantly associated with self-medication with OTC analgesics, particularly PCM, in our population of schoolchildren, even when the child’s pain was adjusted for (odds ratio 3.00, P = .008). A clear association between child pain and OTC analgesic use was not found. Additionally, maternal health (self-rated health, chronic pain, chronic disease, daily medicine intake) did not significantly influence child use of OTC analgesics.


Maternal self-medication with OTC analgesics is associated with self-medication of OTC analgesics, predominantly PCM, among school-aged children, perhaps more than the child’s pain. Maternal health seems of less importance. Information to parents about pain self-management is important to promote appropriate PCM use among schoolchildren.

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