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Minding Kids' Cough Medicine

August 17, 2007, 1:56 PM by Jaine Andrews

Minding Kids' Cough Medicine
If there's a child under two in your home, there’s a warning from the Food and Drug Administration about a medicine that's probably in your medicine cabinet right now. 

That medication is any over-the-counter cough or cold remedy. And FDA officials say they're hoping today's words of warning will bring a stop to a growing number of injuries to infants and toddlers. 

Don't let these labels fool you. According to the Food and Drug Administration, over-the-counter cough and cold remedies might not be what the doctor orders for either infants or toddlers. Heather Kruse, Lewis Drug pharmacist says, " Mostly it's going to come back to dosaging errors due to different concentrations of formulations." 

The FDA has already fielded reports of more than 300 children who were accidentally over-dosed and three children who died after being given remedies found on drug store shelves and in many medicine cabinets. Kruse says, "There's all different formulations of over-the-counter medications. You've got concentrated drops, you've got suspensions and then you’ve got adult formulations and it's very easy to confuse those products." 

It pays to read the fine print, but the FDA says not enough parents do. As a result, officials are urging parents not to give products like these to children younger than two without a doctor's approval. Kruse says, "Some of the common mistakes would be using like a household teaspoon to give the medicine because those are inaccurate. You can have variation anywhere from 2 up to 10 M-Ls, where a teaspoon is typically 5 M-Ls." 

Cough and cold remedies, officials say are not cures for the common cold, instead they should simply be thought of as help for the symptoms of the common cold. Kruse says, "Some work, some are missing a lot of good evidence and that's why the FDA is currently reviewing a lot of the products under the age of two for cough and cold because of a lack of efficacy in the studies that are out there." 

The number of adverse reactions have caused such a concern among FDA officials that hearings have been scheduled to address the topic in mid October. For their part, the drugs manufacturers insist that these remedies are both safe and effective when administered properly.

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