Children's Cold Medicine: Spread the Word

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Children's Cold Medicine: Spread the Word

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN
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Parents are always anxious to relieve the stuffiness, achiness and cough that accompany colds. You, as a nurse, want to help.

Scratch over-the-counter (OTC) medications off your list and spread the word. Alarming reports of death, convulsion, tachycardia and altered consciousness increasingly worry experts. Some would like to see a ban on the drugs for children under six.

The Food and Drug Administration held two public meetings this year to hear from all parties, and in January it recommended against the use of these products in children under two. A second hearing, held Oct. 2, 2008, focused on the labeling of OTC cough and cold medications; and on Oct. 6, 2008, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association announced its members would voluntarily change labels to discourage use in children under four. There is no plan to recall products already on the shelf.

The FDA continues to study the safety and effectiveness of these medications, which many pediatricians find useless. Along with continuing the recommendation to avoid them in children under two, the FDA recommends the following until it resolves the issues:

1.    Do not give children medications labeled for adults.

2.    Use extreme care when giving a child more than one medication.

3.    Use only measuring devices that come with the medicine or are specifically designed for measuring drugs.

4.    Use only those products with child safety features and store the products away from children.


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