Over 40 Percent Of Parents Misuse Cough Medicine On Children
April 23, 2013

Millions Of Parents Misuse Cough And Cold Medicine On Young Children

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Over 40 percent of parents improperly use over-the-counter cough and cold medicine to treat children under the age of four, according to the most recent University of Michigan CS Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.

According to the researchers, children can get up to 10 colds each year. But when their mothers and fathers given them medicine to treat the ailment, they often disregard label warnings and give them products that they should not use. More than 40 percent of those parents gave their children cough medicine or multi-symptom cough and cold medicine, while 25 percent gave them decongestants, the poll revealed.

Five years ago, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an advisory warning that these over-the-counter substances should not be given to infants or children under the age of two, explained Matthew M. Davis, an associate professor of adult medicine and pediatrics and the director of the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.

These medicines have not been proven effective in younger children and could result in serious side effects, he said, and manufacturers changed their labels accordingly in 2008.

"These products don't reduce the time the infection will last and misuse could lead to serious harm,” Davis said in a statement. “What can be confusing, however, is that often these products are labeled prominently as 'children's' medications. The details are often on the back of the box, in small print. That's where parents and caregivers can find instructions that they should not be used in children under 4 years old.”

The potential side effects of cough and cold medications in younger children could include allergic reactions, increased or uneven heart rate, drowsiness or sleeplessness, slow and shallow breathing, confusion or hallucinations, convulsions, nausea and constipation.

The poll discovered that the misuse of these medications in children under the age of four did not differ by the parent´s gender, race or income. Davis cautioned that moms and dads need to make sure they read the directions thoroughly before giving any cold or cough medicine to their infants or toddlers.

“Products like these may work for adults, and parents think it could help their children as well. But what's good for adults is not always good for children,” he said, noting that parents should always call their pediatricians or health care providers if they have any questions about over-the-counter cold medications.

“Because young children often suffer from cold-like symptoms, more research is needed to test the safety and efficacy of these cough and cold medicines in our littlest patients,” Davis added.