MONDAY, Nov. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Three years after
nonprescription infant cold medicines were taken off the market,
emergency rooms treat less than half as many children under 2 for
overdoses and other adverse reactions to the drugs, a new U.S.
government study shows.
A voluntary withdrawal of over-the-counter cough and cold
medicines for children aged 2 and under took effect in October 2007
because of concerns about potential harm and lack of effectiveness.
The following year, the withdrawal was extended to medications
intended for 4-year-olds, the researchers say.
"I think it's good that these products were withdrawn, but it's not going to take care of the entire problem," said lead researcher Dr. Daniel S. Budnitz, of the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Since more than two-thirds of these emergency department visits
were the result of young children getting into medicines on their
own, problems are likely to continue, he said.
The report is published online Nov. 22 in
For the study, Budnitz's team tracked visits to U.S. hospital
emergency departments by children under 12 who were treated for
adverse events tied to over-the-counter cold medications in the 14
months before and after the withdrawal.
Although the total number of visits remained the same before and
after the withdrawal, among children under 2 these visits dropped
from 2,790 to 1,248 -- more than 50 percent, the researchers
But, as with emergency department visits before the withdrawal,
75 percent of cases involving cold medications resulted from
children taking these drugs while unsupervised.
Whether these emergency department visits involved cough and
cold medicines for children or adults isn't known, Budnitz
Perhaps some parents are giving their young children cough and
cold medications intended for older children or adults, he
"The lesson for parents is, don't give cough and cold medicines to your infants," Budnitz said. "Also, keep all medicines up and out of the way of children," he said.
To help prevent children from getting into medications, the CDC
is working with manufacturers to get safer caps on medicine
bottles, Budnitz said.
Commenting on the study, Dr. Andrew Racine, chief of general
pediatrics at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, stressed
that over-the-counter cough and cold medications are not intended
for children under 4 years.
"The efficacy studies for these things are not very robust, and the potential bad effects have been well-documented," he said.
The withdrawal of these drugs proves that a public health
solution can be effective, Racine said.
Racine concedes that young children who suffer from colds can
make everyone in the home uncomfortable. "An 18-month-old that's up
all night coughing, sneezing, and just miserable is very disruptive
to a household," he said.
But there are safer ways to help your child deal with a cold, he
If a fever causes young children discomfort, you can give them
Tylenol (acetaminophen), Racine said. "I tell parents not to be
doing that at the least sign of fever, because a little fever is
actually good. It helps make it difficult for the virus to
replicate," he said.
A humidifier can relieve congestion, Racine said. Nasal saline
drops and a bulb syringe to suck out mucus can provide some relief
to infants with congestion, he added.
Also, a child with a cold needs lot of fluids, he said.
For more information on colds, visit the
U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.