Cold Medicine Risky for Kids Under 2
Deaths and Emergency Department Visits Linked to Overdoses, CDC Report Shows
WebMD News Archive
A Pediatrician's View
The CDC report is not the first finding that the medications can cause
problems in young children, says Ian Paul, MD, a pediatrician and assistant
professor of pediatrics at the Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pa.
Other studies have reached the same conclusion.
It's difficult to determine, he says, how widespread the problem is.
Part of the problem with adverse effects, he says, is that "many of
these medicines have multiple ingredients. It's difficult for parents to
realize they may be giving their child the same ingredient from two different
medicines. If you give your child a cough medicine and a cold medicine, you may
be doubling up on an ingredient."
Parents of young children should also know that the medications may not do
much to relieve the symptoms, he says. "There are no studies demonstrating
the safety and effectiveness of cold and cough medications in this under age 2
population," he says.
Since 1997, the American Academy of Pediatrics has advised parents of young
children that the cough suppressants dextromethorphan and codeine have not been
proven effective in young children and have the potential for adverse effects,
says Paul, a member of the Academy's executive committee for the section on
clinical pharmacology and therapeutics.
In Lieu of Medications
Paul tells parents of young children to administer "comfort
measures" when their child has a cough or cold, such as giving them plenty
of fluids so they will stay hydrated.
"If your child is over 3 months, you can give acetaminophen for relief
of discomfort," Paul says. "Ibuprofen can be given over age 6
Saline nose drops can also help, he says. "Increasingly, pediatricians
are recognizing that this is the right advice to give," he says.