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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

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Parents Halting Kids' Cough, Cold Drugs

Poll : 1 in 3 Parents of Young Kids Say They've Stopped Giving OTC Cough and Cold Drugs to Their Children
WebMD Health News

Dec. 14, 2007 -- A new poll shows that some U.S. parents are reconsidering their use of over-the-counter cough and cold medicines for children.

In the poll, most parents indicated that they're aware of recent news about the safety and effectiveness of those cold medicines.

In October, an FDA advisory panel recommended that over-the-counter cough and cold medicines not be used in children who are 2 to 5 years old. The FDA hasn't decided yet whether to approve that recommendation.

Earlier this year, the FDA warned parents not to give kids younger than 2 over-the-counter cough or cold medicines unless given specific directions to do so by a health care provider.

The Consumer Health Care Products Association, a trade group representing over-the-counter drugmakers, calls the drugs safe and effective when used as directed.

The new poll, conducted by telephone in November, included some 1,500 U.S. adults, about a third of whom were parents of kids under 6.

Over 30% of parents with children under 6 say they plan to stop giving their children those cold medicines. But 50% say they'll keep giving their children those drugs. The remaining parents aren't sure, aren't aware of the issue, or said they never gave those drugs to their children, anyway.

Most of the parents say they've given their children over-the-counter cough and cold medicines in the past. And most say those medicines seem to be at least somewhat effective.

About 70% of all the parents of children under 6 say they are at least "somewhat" confident that over-the-counter children's drugs are safe. But 35% say their views about children's over-the-counter cough and cold medicines have become "more negative" in the past several years -- and roughly the same number say they're confused about the safety and effectiveness of children's over-the-counter cough and cold medicines.

Parents said their doctor is their most trusted source of accurate information about the safety and effectiveness of over-the-counter medicines for children. Pharmacists ranked second.

The poll -- conducted for National Public Radio, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public Health -- has a 3% margin of error overall and a 5% margin of error for parents of children younger than 18.

(Are you still using kids' cold medicines? Join the poll on WebMD's Parenting: Preschoolers and Grade Schoolers message board.)

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