Study examines cold medication use in young children

May 31, 2008

Cough and cold medication use in young children has been linked to a significant number of adverse effects and several deaths, leading the FDA to recommend against their use for children less than two years old. Despite these concerns about safety and efficacy, there has been little research on patterns of cough and cold medication use in very young children. Now, a new study from the Emergency Medicine Network led by Katherine O’Donnell, M.D. of Children’s Hospital Boston reveals important new statistics about medication use in children under the age of two.

According to the study, 1-in-3 children under the age of two with bronchiolitis (a lower respiratory tract infection associated with runny nose, cough, wheezing and/or difficulty breathing) had received over-the-counter cough and cold medicines in the week prior to visiting an emergency department.

This study identifies rates and predictors of cough and cold medication use prior to the manufacturer recall of and FDA recommendations against use of these medications in children younger than two years of age.

“After the recall and labeling changes, it will be important to monitor for potential ongoing use of these medicines in young children and observe if parents or physicians are turning to other therapies in place of these medications,” says O’Donnell.

Given these findings and the fact that non-concentrated cough and cold formulations remain available for over-the-counter use, the authors encourage physicians to counsel all parents of young children about these ineffective and potentially dangerous medications.

While the study did not identify a specific high-risk demographic group for targeted educational interventions, factors including daycare attendance, second-hand smoke exposure, recent antibiotic use and presence of wheezing were associated with increased use of cough and cold medications. Children less than a year old, as well as those with a history of hospitalization, were less likely to use these medications.

Source: Wiley

Explore further: Bad relationships increase risk of infection in both mother and child

Related Stories

What do you know about pneumonia?

September 15, 2016

Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the air sacs in one or both lungs. The air sacs may fill with fluid or pus (purulent material), causing cough with phlegm or pus, fever, chills and difficulty breathing. A variety of ...

Preventing back-to-school illnesses

September 19, 2016

The backpacks are packed, lunchboxes are filled and the little ones are back in school. Kids have returned to their classrooms with stories of their summer vacations, and, unfortunately, with a host of germs ready to spread ...

The immune system's influence on sickness behaviour

August 30, 2016

It is hard to find the words to describe how I feel at the moment because my brain is only working at about 10% capacity. At least I made it to work today. This is an improvement on last week, when I decided to stay home ...

Recommended for you

Universal flu vaccine designed by scientists

September 30, 2016

An international team of scientists have designed a new generation of universal flu vaccines to protect against future global pandemics that could kill millions.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.