No Spoonful of Medicine for the Kiddo

Parents giving cough and cold medicines to children may not be following warning labels

(RxWiki News) It can be frustrating to watch your toddler or your baby suffer from a cold or a bad cough. But giving them over-the-counter medicines is not usually a good idea.

A recent report found that many parents are not following the warning labels on over-the-counter medications for coughs and colds.

The labels state these medicines should not be given to children under 4 years old.

Yet a quarter of parents do give the youngsters decongestants. Even more parents have given their toddlers or babies other types of cold medicines.

"Ask your pediatrician about treating children's colds."

The report, published by the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health, was based on a household survey of 498 parents who had a child aged 3 or under.

The survey aimed to determine whether parents were following warning labels on over-the-counter medications which state that children under 4 should not be given that medicine.

The demographics of the parents surveyed reflected similar percentages to the rest of the US, based on the most recent Census Bureau data.

The survey found that 25 percent of parents reported they have given an over-the-counter decongestant to their child before their child was 4 years old.

In addition, 42 percent of parents have given their child a cough medicine when the kid was under 4 years old.

A combination cough and cold medicine was given by 44 percent of parents to their child at age 3 or younger.

The FDA released an advisory message in October 2008 stating that over-the-counter cough and cold medicines should never be given to children under 2 years old.

The advisory message was released because evidence shows that children's infections do not go away faster if they are given these medications. Most children typically get five to ten colds a year on average, the report states.

Meanwhile, the medications carry risks, including side effects such as allergic reactions, changes in heart rate, sleepiness, slow or shallow breathing, nausea, constipation, confusion, hallucinations or seizures.

After the FDA advisory, companies that manufacture over-the-counter cough and cold medicines changed their labels to state that these medicines should not be used in children under 4 years old.

The report was published April 22 at the National Poll on Children's Health website. The poll was conducted by GfK Custom Research, LLC.


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Review Date: 
April 24, 2013