40% Of Parents Give Young Children Drugs They Shouldn’t

Forty percent of parents give children under the age of 4 cough medications they should not receive.Despite doctors’ advice, many parents still turn to OTC (over-the-counter) cough medicines for their very young kids.cough med1

It is not surprising that parents get medications for their young children, especially as most of them catch colds from five to ten times per year. The problem is that 40% of parents are giving these little ones drugs they should not be taking, researchers from the University of Michigan wrote.

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) issued an advisory in 2008 that these OTC medications should not be given to infants and kids under two. These drugs have not been proven effective for very young children and are associated with serious side effects.

Cough and cold OTC drug makers responded to the FDA’s advisory by changing their labels, stating that their products should not be used for kids under four years of age.
These products don’t reduce the time the infection will lasts and misuse could lead to serious harm.
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.
Very young children who take cough and cold medications may experience the following side effects:

  • convulsions
  • allergic reactions
  • arrhythmia
  • confusion
  • constipation
  • drowsiness
  • hallucinations
  • nausea
  • shallow and slow breathing
  • sleepiness

No differences were found between fathers, mothers, and parents of all race/ethnicity regarding their likelihood of giving their very young children OTC cough and cold medications; the same patterns were found across the globe.

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.

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.