No Cold Medicine for Kids

10.10.08: New labels for children's cold remedies


Not for kids under 4. That's the new advice coming from drug companies this week in announcing a change to their guidelines on children's over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines. Instead, doctors say that your little one needs plenty of fluids and lots of TLC to fight the sniffles, The New York Times reports.

This voluntary change-of-heart is in response to rising pressure from parents and pediatricians, who are raising doubts that the drugs do much good for children and are worried about health risks. They're asking that such medications be banned for kids 6 and younger, reports. The Federal Drug Administration said it would continue discussing the ban.

The drug makers also say not to give antihistamines to kids to help them sleep. The new instructions are on packages that started hitting stores this week. Last year, the drug industry pulled cough and cold medicine for children 2 and younger.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that recent research on children's OTC drugs has found some side effects, mostly from accidental overdoses. Problems with these medicines send about 7,000 children to hospital emergency rooms each year, with symptoms including hives, drowsiness and unsteady walking, the CDC says. Many kids overdose by taking medicines when their parents or caregivers aren't looking.

Parents should never:

  • Give adult medicines to a child.
  • Give two or more medicines with the same ingredients at the same time.
  • Give antihistamines to make a child sleepy.

Parents should:

  • Give the exact recommended dose, using the measuring device that comes with the medicine.
  • Keep OTC medicines out of sight and out of reach.
  • Consult their doctor if they have any questions.

For more on safe, non-drug alternatives for treating a cold, see our tips in Treating your baby'’s cold.

Maria Vega is Fit Pregnancy magazine's copy editor.