Thursday, August 16, 2007
Dangers of cold medicine in toddlers
Parents of young children should never give cough and cold medicine to children under age 2, unless instructed to do so by a doctor. This is the gist of a new advisory by the FDA prompted by a CDC report that showed at least three deaths and 1,500 adverse effects in infants and toddlers as a result of taking these medications. Most of the time, the problem seems to be overdosing - either by simply giving too much, too often, or mixing medications with the same active ingredients.
Turns out these medications can have some pretty powerful effects on young children. They can interfere with the heart's electrical system causing an arrhythmia or constrict blood vessels too much causing hypertension. While most of these problems seem to be associated with overdosing, it is possible that a small percentage of kids have an adverse effect even at smaller doses.
Truth be told, a lot of pediatricians hardly ever recommend cold or cough medicines for children that young. The biggest reason is that it is unclear what dose is safe for kids under 2. It is also unclear whether these medications even work. Instead, many doctors recommend using a soft suction tube to irrigate and suction the nose (a little disgusting, but pretty effective), saline nose drops or a humidifier.
If you are still going to use the medication, make sure to give it to your child exactly as prescribed and not to dose more frequently, even if it doesn't appear to be working. Use the measuring dispenser given with the medication, and if there isn't one, get one from the pharmacy. Never use adult-sized teaspoons or tablespoons to give the medication.
Children get colds - lots of them -- six to10 a year, on average. Almost always, they go away on their own. So, are you likely to go to the medicine cabinet if your child gets sick or do you let it run its course? What are some of the best remedies you have found?
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