AHEM! Please Heed This Warning

Parents continue to give their kids cough and cold medications, despite FDA warnings

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Even though research has found that over-the-counter cough and cold medications can lead to poisoning and death among children two years of age and younger, parents are still giving their children such medications.

The FDA recommends that over-the-counter cough and cold medicine not be given to children under two years of age. However, according to a poll released by the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, more than 60 percent of parents with children aged 2 years and younger gave their kids over-the-counter cough and cold medicine within the last 12 months.

The poll also showed that over half of parents report their doctors say that over-the-counter cough and cold medicine is safe for children under two years of age. Parents also reported that their doctors said that such medications are effective.

After studies had shown that cough and cold medications for children to be unsafe and ineffective, the FDA issued warnings that eventually led to various voluntary recalls.

For this study, Matthew Davis, MD, associate professor in the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the University of Michigan Medical School and director of the poll, and colleagues wanted to see how well parents and doctors were responding to the FDA recommendations. According to the poll data, parents do not appear to be adopting the recommendations. More surprisingly, it seems doctors also have not heeded the warnings.

The poll also found that use of over-the-counter cough and cold medicine for children under two differed by family income. About 80 percent of families who made less than $30,000 per year still gave their young kids over-the-counter cough and cold medicine, compared to 41 percent of families who made more than $100,000 per year.

There are obstacles to educating parents about this subject, says Davis. As the FDA warning was issued more than two years ago, most parents with children under two years of age probably have not heard the recommendations. For this reason, Davis says that each new generation of parents should be educated on the diversity of healthcare issues for their children.

It is also essential that physicians are up to date with FDA warnings, and that they heed those warnings. When parents and doctors are both on the same page about over-the-counter cough and cold editions, kids will be much safer.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 28, 2011
Last Updated:
October 11, 2012