Feb. 17, 2011 -- Despite health warnings and a formal recommendation by the FDA against doing so, many parents are still giving over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicine to kids under age 2.
Research has shown that OTC cough and cold medicines have led to poisoning or death in kids under age 2. As a result, the FDA said in 2008 that OTC cough and cold products should not be given to children in this age group.
Even so, six out of 10 parents have done so in the last year, according to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital “National Poll on Children’s Health.”
Matthew Davis, MD, associate professor in the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the University of Michigan Medical School, and colleagues wanted to see how well parents and doctors were heeding recommendations to avoid the use of OTC cough/cold medicines in children under age 2. In January 2011, they polled randomly selected parents in the U.S. with children 6 months to 2 years old.
I wanted my child to be more comfortable during the daytime.
My child’s health care provider recommended the medicine.
Slightly more than half of the parents (56%) said their doctor's recommendation was a "very important" reason why they gave their child such medicines.
Two-thirds of the parents polled said "very important" reasons for using medicines included helping their sick child sleep better or to be more comfortable during the day.
Informing Parents About Cough/Cold Medicine
Researchers admit there are challenges to informing parents about the use of OTC cough/cold medicines in children, especially new parents who may not have heard the warnings when issued several years ago. Doctors play a critical important role in educating parents about the safety and usage of cough/cold medicines, and it is important that messages given are clear and consistent, Davis says.
“Physicians are a valuable source of information for parents about this issue, but it appears that physicians are not heeding FDA warnings about OTC cough and cold medicines either. Kids will be safer when parents and doctors are all on the same page in limiting these medicines to older children.”