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New Warning For Children's OTC Cold Medicines

October 7, 2008, 5:00 PM by Kelli Grant

New Warning For Children's OTC Cold Medicines
Just in time for the cold and flu season, manufacturers for children's over-the-counter cough and cold medications are changing their recommendations on who can take them. 

Children's over-the-counter cough and cold medications send about 7,000 children to the hospital each year. That's thanks to unintentional overdoses or accidental ingestion. In response to that, drug manufacturers are changing labels that will now read, "Do not use" in children under the age of 4. 

Millions of parents turn to children's over-the-counter medications when their toddler has a fever or the sniffles. But Sanford pediatrician Dr. Candice Nelson says riding out the storm may be much safer. 

Dr. Nelson says, “Make sure they're drinking well, make sure they're eating well, trying to get plenty of sleep.” 

As they encourage parents to use medicines appropriately, manufacturers are voluntarily changing the labels and adding new language that warns parents not to use antihistamine products to sedate or make a child sleepy. 

Nelson says there's no real proof these medications will cure the sniffles or cut the cough. 

She says, “There's no good studies that any of the medications work, and they've not really been adequately studied in children.” 

The label changes come after pediatricians urged the Food and Drug Administration last week to recall cold medication for kids younger than six. 

Manufacturers say the ingredients aren't the problem; rather it’s parents who don't follow dosage directions. But Nelson questions their benefits and their risks. 

Dr. Nelson says, “We don't know what the threshold is for the medication to be overdosed so often times it can be a fine line from actually maybe helping to being overdosed.” 

But parents can expect to see the new labels and packaging on store shelves in time for this cold and flu season. 

Dr. Nelson says, “I think of a lot of parents are spending a lot of money on medications that don't help their child at all.” 

Nelson's advice: Save your money and help your child get over their cold the old-fashioned way. 

If this all sounds familiar, the FDA warned earlier this year against giving over-the-counter medicines to children younger than 2. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends that the drugs not be given to infants and children under 2 because of the risk of life-threatening side effects. 

Medications Affected By Label Change

OTC Medicine Safety

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