A spoonful of sugar may help the medicine go down, but it also can contribute to an unusually high number of cavities found in chronically ill children.

Researchers at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto looked at the medication schedules for 20 chronically ill children who were prescribed liquid medicine which contained 30 to 70 percent sugar.They found that medicine often was administered by dropper while the children slept. Some were given a pacifier dipped in honey or syrup following medication.

Parents were so concerned, they said, with treating the illness that regular brushing was neglected.

"This isn't unusual," says Dr. Cherilyn Sheets, a spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry. She suggests that parents be certain to reinforce regular brushing and flossing habits, especially when children are ill, to avoid future dental problems.