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Change In Children's Cough Syrup and Cold Medicine Labeling

Posted Jan 15 2009 11:46pm
Given the sad but true fact that we are gearing up for another flu and cold season I thought I would share with you an important labeling revision to pediatric over-the-counter cough syrups and cold medicines that was set into place in October 2008. As the result of pressure from pediatricians' groups (who threatened a ban on these products for children under the age of 6) pharmaceutical companies have revised the usage labeling on OTC cough and cold medicines. The revised labels state that these products are "not to be used" for children under the age of 4. This response was supported by the FDA.

While the evidence is still unclear regarding deaths linked to these OTC products and potential harmful side effects, the majority of pediatricians do not feel these products are at all effective in treating coughs in children as well as adults. While there is no reason to worry about past usage of these products, many pediatricians' groups advise not giving these products to your children in the future and suggest sticking with safer remedies including acetaminophen, ibuprofen, saline nose drops and honey to treat coughs for children over the age of one*. In fact,a study conducted by Penn State College of Medicineindicated that a "small dose of buckwheat honey given before bedtime provided better relief of nighttime cough and sleep difficulty in children than no treatment or dextromethorphan (DM), a cough suppressant found in many over-the-counter cold medications."

As many of you are probably already aware, honey has been used for centuries to treat the symptoms of upper respiratory infections like a cough, and is considered to be safe for children over 12 months old*. Furthermore, honey is a well recognized antioxidant and it is known to soothe on contact, which may help explain its effect on cough and sore throat. Furthermore, unlike the dizziness and sleeplessness that may be brought on by dextromethorphan, honey would appear to be a safer choice -- even if it proves not to be effective.

For more evidence on the use of honey to treat cough symptoms click the following links:


For more information on the revised labeling click on this link:Revision To Children's OTC Cold Medicine & Cough Syrup Label

If you every have a question about OTC products or the use of homopathic alternatives it is best to first consult with your pediatrician before giving any of these products to your children.

*Important Note: Never give honey to children one or younger because it may lead to botulism.



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