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Toddlers Help Themselves to Cold Medicine

November 18, 2013
Plain English Version

The misuse of cold and cough remedies for toddlers sometimes ends up in visits to emergency rooms. A study said 4 in 10 parents gave these meds to children under 4 years of age. A doctor said, “There is a new batch of parents who seem to be oblivious” to the dangers of some remedies. The story is not as good for children over 4 years of age. There was no big reduction in the misuse of cold and cough remedies for them.

However, 90 percent of the reasons toddlers overuse the meds is that they take it themselves. Doctors call it “unsupervised ingestion.” They are telling parents to put the drugs away after every use. Children are attracted to the color of the bottles and the good taste of the meds.

One doctor told of a 3-year old who drank the cough medicine that her 10-year old sister had left on a bathroom shelf. The toddler had a rapid heart rate. She became upset and then drowsy. She was showing signs of an overdose. She ended up in the emergency room.

In 2007 manufactures made warnings on the label easier for parents to read. A new report says the improved labels are working. There are many fewer visits to ERs. However, the industry says, when used correctly, the drugs are safe. They say there is no need for new labeling.

Parents and doctors also want the medicines’ containers to be limited to single doses.

However, there is a deeper issue. Many doctors say parents overuse cough and cold drugs. Many such remedies have not proven effective.

Taking the medicines should never end in trips to the emergency room.

Source: The New York Times                                                                                           November 11, 2013












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