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Published: December, 2008; Vol 5, Num 7

 

Children’s Cold Medicine Called into Question

After talks with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), members of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), who produce over-the-counter cough and cold medicine, relabeled their products to read “do not use” for children under the age of four. This move comes nearly a year after the medicine manufacturers voluntarily pulled many of their products for children up to two years old off the shelves. In addition to the recall and warnings, the CHPA will also introduce new measuring and child-proof devices.

Kids and Colds

With FDA warnings and voluntary recalls, parents may be considering non-commercial remedies to relieve their little ones’ cold symptoms. WebMD offers the following suggestions:

  • Keep kids hydrated. Babies younger than six months should drink breast milk or formula. Oral electrolyte solutions are also recommended.
  • Giving honey to children is permissible to relieve a cough but only under certain circumstances. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises a half teaspoon for children 2 to 5, one teaspoon for those 6 to 11 and two teaspoons for kids older than 12. Do not give honey to babies under two years old.
  • Soft foods such as pudding are good for a scratchy throat.
  • If you smoke, quit. Secondhand smoke is toxic to children at all times, and it is especially harmful when a child is already sick.

Discuss any concerns that you have about your child’s health with your pediatrician. For more tips, visit WebMD. Remember that there is no cure for the common cold. The best remedies are lots of fluids and rest; most times, the illness will pass on its own in a week to ten days.

“The FDA issued a warning last January against giving these drugs to infants and toddlers and updated that warning again in October [read the advisory here],” says Noel C. Borck, the LHSFNA’s Management Co-Chairman. “After an extensive review, the FDA found serious side effects that could be life-threatening.”

Members of the medical community, who had become suspicious of cough and cold medicines aimed at kids, applauded these developments.

Dr. Richard Gorman, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics section on clinical pharmacology and therapeutics, told ABC News. "This is a recognition by the companies making these [products] that, over the last decade, enough information has become available to swing the risk versus benefit ratio toward the risk side," said Dr. Gorman. "At the time these were approved, the FDA extrapolated adult data to children. In the last 25-30 years, that has been shown to be inaccurate, and occasionally dangerous."

“The FDA is still in the process of testing and investigating the use of cough and cold medicine for children ages 2 to 11 years due to the possible side effects,” Borck adds. “Parents and caregivers should always administer medication to children carefully and contact their family physician with any questions.”

The FDA recommends the following guidelines for children two years of age and older as posted on its website:

  • Do not give children adult medication.
  • Ask your doctor any questions that you have about using cough and cold medicines with children.
  • Purchase medicines that have child-resistant safety caps. Tighten the caps after every use, and keep all medicines out of the reach of children.
  • Read the DRUG FACTS label on your child’s medication so that you can recognize which “active ingredients” (e.g., decongestant, fever reducer, etc.) will treat your child’s specific symptoms. If you must give your child more than one medication, never give them drugs that contain the same active ingredient.
  • Follow the directions closely when administering medication to your child and use only the product’s measuring devices or those designed for measuring medicine.

The Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America’s Health Promotion Division is dedicated to the health and wellness of LIUNA members and their families. For information on its programs, visit the website or call (202) 628-5465.

[Jennifer E. Jones]