Cough and cold medicines for children.


In the March/April 2007 issue of our our consumer newsletter, Safe Medicine, we published a report about concerns with over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines given to children. At that time, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) felt that OTC cough and cold medicines did not lessen symptoms in children younger than 2 years old.

There were also several reports of serious harm when cough and cold medicines with pseudoephedrine (e.g., Sudafed) were given to young children. For this reason, many companies have voluntarily withdrawn cough and cold products labeled for use in children less than 2 years old. The FDA continues to tell parents to be cautious when giving OTC cough and cold medicines to children 6 years and younger.

Now, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) announced that its members are voluntarily changing the product labels of OTC cough and cold medicines to state "do not use" in children less than 4 years of age. (For details, visit: CHPA is a group that represents most of the makers of OTC cough and cold medicines. The companies are also making their medicines more child resistant and providing new measuring devices to help parents prepare accurate doses for children older than 4 years of age. However, cough and cold medicines with labels that state "do not use" with children younger than 2 may still be available on pharmacy shelves or at home in your medicine cabinet.

Here's what you can do: To be safe, always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before giving cough or cold medicines to children. Understand that using OTC cough and cold medicines does not cure the cold or cough. These medicines only treat symptoms, such as runny nose, congestion, fever, and aches. They do not shorten the length of time your child is sick. If you give your child cough and cold medicine, carefully follow the directions on the label. These directions tell you how much medicine to give and how often you can give it. If you have a question, don't hesitate to call your pharmacist or doctor.

Created on December 1, 2008

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