In October 2007, the FDA issued warnings on giving cold medications to kids under the age of 6. This week, the FDA affirmed that warning for kids under the age of 2 and warned parents to avoid these medicines because of “serious and potentially life-threatening side effects.” Actually, the FDA has never approved cold medicines for children under 2.

The FDA is still investigating the effects of cold medicines on the 2-11 age group. These warnings come because of several concerns.

1. Parents can very easily give the wrong dosage
2. Parents are giving these medicines to children without consulting their pediatrician
3. These medicines do not appear to be effective on infants and toddlers
4. There have been rare, but serious side effects from convulsions, rapid heartbeat and even death

Parents, if you give cold medicines for children over 2:
1. NEVER give more then 1 type of medicine without consulting your child’s pediatrician. Just because it is over the counter, does not mean it is safe. Same goes for mixing with herbal remedies.
2. ALWAYS use the proper dosage in the provided dropper. Never use a cereal spoon as these are not accurate measurements.
3. ALWAYS follow the dosing instructions. If it says every 4 hours, don’t cheat and give at 3.5 hours.
4. Only treat the symptoms your child has. If he just has a cough, do not use a medicine that also treats a fever and congestion.
5. NEVER use an adults version, even if you are giving a smaller dose. Kids medicines are formulated for kids and adult medicines are formulated for adults.
6. Even herbal remedies can have side effects. Just because these are more “natural” remedies does not mean they are safe for children. Consult a professional.

There are better and more effective ways to treat your child’s cold and cough.
1. Use homeopathic remedies, such as those by Hyland’s (makers of the famous teething tablets). Homeopathic remedies help your body fight infections by boosting your immune system, which is why these are more effective than over the counter meds (that just mask the symptoms). Hyland’s products are good – I just used the cough syrup for my 21 month old and she cried for more. She would have drunk the whole bottle if I let her.
It does taste pretty good. 🙂
2. Breast milk in nose for congestion – just pull her off at letdown
and aim for her nostrils! Seems to work almost immediately for us.
3. Vicks on the bottom of her feet (Vicks makes a milder baby version
and so does the same folks who make the Little Noses saline drops).
If you get the baby stuff, you can rub on her chest too, otherwise,
stick to the feet.
4. Use a humidifier/vaporizer. Some suggest this is not effective in getting into the tiny airways of infants, but I have always found it useful in when my daughter was an infant.
5. You can also run hot water in the bathroom and shut the door and let
her breathe the steam for 10 minutes or so. When my daughter had a cold as a
baby, I sat her bouncy seat in the bathroom while I took a shower.
6. Raise the end of the mattress so her head is elevated, will help her
drain and prevent further congestion. To do this safely, put a pillow or rolled up towel under the mattress rather than in the bed with baby.
7. Give lots of fluids to help break up the mucus – breast milk and
water are best.
8. I have recently heard of Sinupret. It’s supposed to be an herbal remedy but it is also 8% alcohol. It’s also NOT recommended for kids under 2, for pregnant, lactating or soon to be pregnant women. I am a skeptic, but it is widely used in Europe and is apparently effective.
9. I have also had some natural vapor bath stuff. It may have helped, but was not as effective as the others.

FDA press release

Dr. Sears on treating kid’s colds

CNN report

2 thoughts on “FDA Warning on Kids’ Cold Medicines & Alternatives to Medicines

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