Keeping Children Safe

 

Many parents specifically ask their child's doctor for a prescription for an antibiotic when their child has a cold or sore throat. In fact, almost 75% of children's antibiotic prescriptions are related to these conditions. However, most of these infections are caused by viruses that do NOT get better with antibiotics. Antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses.

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.

Two years ago, a Florida judge ruled that parents have a duty to read the drug information sheets that are given out with prescriptions for their children. The ruling was in response to a case involving a 3-month-old infant with an infection in her mouth (thrush). The baby's doctor had prescribed liquid nystatin to treat the infection. By mistake, the pharmacy dispensed a cold medicine containing a decongestant and an antihistamine.

A kindergartner was taken to the hospital on the first day of school after a teacher's aide accidentally gave him another child's medication. The 5-year-old boy became drowsy after he was given Catapres (clonidine), a blood pressure medication sometimes used to treat children who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The answer is "YES" if you have someone age 12 to 25 living in your house. According to a 2006 survey recently released by the federal government, approximately 5 percent of people in this age group have used over-the-counter (OTC) cough or cold medicine to get high.

Too close for comfort. A mother discovered that her infant daughter had been taking an allergy medicine instead of an antacid for a month. The baby's doctor had prescribed the antacid Zantac (ranitidine) syrup to help with spitting up and crying. When the mother called the pharmacy for a refill, she requested the same grape flavor of medicine that her daughter had been taking.

Out of the corner of your eye, you catch your toddler drinking from his older broter's bottle of liquid medicine. You quickly call the National Poison Control Hotline.* But when they ask you how much your child took, you frantically realize that you don't really know.

If you have young children or grandchildren, you are probably used to being on the lookout for danger in your home and the child's play areas. But a doctor's office or clinic might be an unrecognized source of danger, as one mother learned.

Some medical and dental procedures require people to remain still for a long time. This is almost impossible for young children. Medical procedures like certain X-rays, CT scans, or MRI tests can also be scary to children. To help, the doctor or dentist may prescribe a sedative for a child before the procedure.

In 2005, FOX 9 news in Minneapolis reported a tragic story. A 15-month-old child died after drinking the contents of a bottle that contained her heart medicine, Tambocor (flecainide). Since birth, the child's parents had given her three doses each day to slow her racing heart. But in a matter of minutes, the child was able to open the prescription bottle and drink all the medicine. The overdose of what was once life-saving medicine killed her.

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