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Cold Remedies and Cough Drops Aren’t Safe for Children

Dozens of different medications are available to treat a child’s sniffles, sneezes and coughs, but I’d caution against using any of them. From Triaminic to Robitussin – which has built a kiddy cold empire by treating cold symptoms [1] individually – increasingly prevalent health concerns have snapped the FDA from its usual sloth. You can read more about the cough syrup warning here [2]. Just as medical research presumed for decades that women’s bodies were exactly like men’s (and therefore did not merit specific research), drug companies have taken it for granted that children are simply small adults. Not so. Cough and cold remedies for infants and children [3] represent a massive revenue stream for OTC drug makers, so you can imagine the scrambling going on in board rooms right now.

From the Wall Street Journal [2]:

“The FDA said Friday it had 54 reports of deaths in children linked to decongestants containing the ingredients pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine and ephedrine from 1969 to Sept. 13, 2006, and 69 reports of deaths linked to antihistamines with the ingredients diphenhydramine, brompheniramine and chlorpheniramine. The agency said the bulk of the reports were in children younger than 2.”

It’s far safer, and probably better anyway, to treat your children’s cold discomfort with natural methods. Menthol rubs, humidifiers, hot water bottles, ice packs, chicken noodle soup or broth, seltzer water, and rest are all helpful. While it’s not pleasant to see your child feeling miserable, remember that occasional colds are helping to build your child’s immune system. A “cold” is really the collection of symptoms that indicate the body is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do. Unless a cold persists beyond a week – or if symptoms are really severe – you can probably forgo the drugs. If you are really concerned, call the pediatrician, of course.

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