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FDA warnings about cough and cold medicine use in toddlers

Watching the news a few nights ago really scared me. They were talking about new warnings about cough and cold medicine usage in children under two. I didn't hear much, as I was busy and not giving my full attention. However, it frightened me, because the same day I heard this, my son had been diagnosed with bronchitis and I was instructed to give him some Mucinex Cough. He is 20 months old. So, I decided to investigate further and relay what I find to you.

The FDA has been reviewing the effectiveness and safety of cough and cold medicines on children under the age of 2 years. Apparently, there have been reported deaths of children related to the usage of these medicines. The FDA reviewed records of side-effects that were filed with the agency between the years of 1969 and September 2006. They found reports of deaths in children associated with decongestant medicines made with pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine or ephedrine. It also found 69 reports of deaths associated with antihistamine medicines containing diphenhydramine, brompheniramine or chlorpheniramine. Most of those deaths were of children under age 2. When I read this, I first thought that there is a pretty good chance that the parents may have inadvertently overdosed their children causing their deaths. Whether or not that is the case, the FDA will be deciding this month (October 2007) whether or not to change dosing reccomendations on packages of cough and cold medicine.

When we are giving our children medicine, it is so important to make sure that we understand what we are putting into their bodies, and what the correct amount is. Some important things to remember are:

* If the package says to ask a doctor under a certain age, and your child is under that age DO NOT administer the medicine unless you have consulted with your physician.

* Only use a dropper or other measuring device made specifically for medicine dosage. A kitchen spoon is simply not adequate; you might give your child too much.

* Pay close attention to the active ingredients in the medicine you are giving. Do not give two medicines together that have any of the same active ingredients. This applies to ALL medicines, not just cough medicines and not just over the counter medicines.

* Do not give children any medicines packaged for adult use.

* Always consult a doctor or pharmacist before administering two different medicines no matter what they are.

If you are EVER unsure about a medicine and it's dosage, safety, or any other aspect of the product contact your doctor. Remember, just because a medicine is sold over-the-counter and marketed to children, does NOT mean that is is 100% safe to administer.

I am not a doctor, pharmacist or other health care professional. I am merely a parent concerned about the safety of my children and the children of others. Always consult a medical professional when it comes to the health of your child.

Update: 10/11/07 - Infant Cough Medicines have been recalled! For more complete and indepth information, please read this article from MSNBC.

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