OBJECTIVES: to measure the prevalence of and identify factors associated with the self-medication of children aged under five years in the municipalities of Caracol in the State of Piauí, and Garrafão do Norte in the State of Pará. METHODS: a cross-sectional method, systematic sampling and a standard household visit questionnaire were used to investigate various characteristics of the mothers, families and children. The chi-squared test was used to compare proportions and Poisson's regression adjusted for robustness of variance for multivariate analysis. RESULTS: of the 590 children studied in Caracol and 1081 in Garrafão, 30% and 25% respectively had been self-medicated in the preceding 15 days. After adjustment for various confounding variables, the fact of not having succeeded in obtaining care for a sick child in the previous 15 days in both municipalities, and that of residing more than 1km from health services in Caracol and of the mother having done paid work in the previous 12 months, in Garrafão, proved to be significantly associated with self-medication among children aged under five years. CONCLUSIONS: the prevalence of self-medication by mothers of children aged under five years in the municipalities under study, although lower than that observed in other parts of Brazil, resulted above all from not being able to gain access to medical assistance.
Self-medication; Drugs; Child health; Child