Doctors are urging parents to ditch the spoon in favor of an oral syringe to measure medicine for young children, arguing that using spoons often leads to giving too little — or worse — too much of a good thing.

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They say the best tool for accuracy is an oral syringe or dropper. Even dosing cups that come with many over-the-counter medications can pose a problem because the instructions often call for a teaspoon but the dosing cup is marked in milliliters, causing confusion. And standard silverware varies widely in size.

The concern about dosing mistakes was recently highlighted in a New York University-led study that found that 84 percent of caregivers made one or more dosing errors when giving medicine to younger children.

Overdosing was the most common problem, with 68 percent of the 2,100 parents in the study making that mistake. Participants, mostly mothers, were responsible for caring for children 8 or younger.

Possible side effects of improper doses of medicine include nausea, irritability and increased blood pressure.