Many are unable to give vitamins correctly and safely even after receiving professional advice, a study by researchers from the Paediatric Department at Northwick Park Hospital, north-west London, has shown.
Writing in this month's medical journal, Archives of Disease in Childhood, they say: 'The results . . . show a large number of parents do not have sufficient knowledge of vitamins to be able to administer the supplementation to their children correctly and safely.' Those parents were all giving their children vitamins A, or D - of which excessive doses can cause bone problems.
Recent publicity about giving vitamins to improve children's intelligence made it 'especially important to make the public aware of the potentially harmful effects'.
The study found that more than one in five children given vitamins were on the wrong dose. Only 35 per cent of parents knew when to stop supplements and 46 per cent did not realise over-dosage could be harmful.