The major manufacturers of infant cough and cold preparations have voluntarily recalled 14 products from the market today, saying that there is too much risk of misuse or overdose of these products. They should be applauded for being proactive on this one.
This comes shortly before the Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to release a report next week about their investigation on these over the counter preparations.
The FDA was alerted to potential for overdose by the City of Baltimore Health Commissioner, who identified four children under three years of age whose cause of death was accidental overdose of cough and cold products.
As we all know, these products say "consult a physician" instead of offering a dosing guideline. Parents may then try to guess-timate what is the correct dose. To add to the confusion, some products are used to treat multiple symptoms and thus, contain two or even three different medications. If a parent then gives another medication, like a decongestant, the child may be accidentally be getting double doses of one product.
I, like most of my pediatrician colleagues, have never recommended these cough and cold remedies anyway. They have marginal benefit in relieving symptoms of the common cold or flu and don't make the disease go away any faster. And, clearly the risk outweighs the benefit.
I still recommend using saline nose drops (you can';t overdose on those!), a humidifier, and lots of TLC from Mom and Dad.