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Kid Cough Medicine Use Continues Despite Warnings

cough medicine for kids, fda warnings

Back in 2007, a public advisory committee made up of science researchers, medical professionals and public health administrators recommended strongly against giving young children over-the-counter cough and cold medicines, despite the fact that some had been formulated specifically for infants and toddlers 2 years and younger.

Manufacturers voluntarily recalled all such medicines intended for the 0 to 24-month age group, a move the Food and Drug Administration, who looked into the matter, strongly supported.

Despite the recalls and warnings, based on studies showing these formulas not only pose an overdose risk — but that they also show no signs of actually working — a new study out of the University of Michigan concludes that parents continue to treat their babies with these medicines. And with good reason.

Their doctors are telling them its OK.

In a press release, researchers said the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health found that 61 percent of parents with children age 2 and younger had given their kids over-the-counter cough or cold medicine in the last 12 months. More than half of the parents polled said their doctors had given the go-ahead and that they also believed the medicines to be effective.

Matthew Davis, M.D., director of the poll and associate professor in the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the U-M Medical School, said the fact that physicians weren’t heeding the warning — which is based on hundreds of child poisoning deaths from the medicines — was surprising.

The study found race mattered when it came to use of the medicines. Black and Hispanic parents were much more likely to use the medicines than white families. Income mattered too — lower-earning families also were more apt to turn toward these over-the-counter drops than higher earners.

Parents, the study showed, just want their kids to get some sleep (who can blame them!) and researchers acknowledge that families with 2-year-olds now may simply have not heard of the warnings from back in 2007.

“Physicians are a valuable source of information for parents about this issue, but it appears that physicians are not heeding FDA warnings about OTC cough and cold medicines either,” David said.  “Kids will be safer when parents and doctors are all on the same page in limiting these medicines to older children.”

As these findings are being released, a new round of studies has begun on the use of these medicines for older children.

Ever since reports of the ineffectiveness and risk for overdose came out, I stopping using cough and cold medicines. In my house, we mainly give out Tylenol or Advil, lots of fluids and time for rest. It’s torture hearing young kids wake up all night with stuffy noses and coughs. But since the medicines weren’t shown to work very well anyway, I figured why bother.

My question is, why do these medicines continue to be available and for those very young age groups?

Do you give your kids cold medicine?

Photo: Flickr/Bart Everson

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