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Use Caution in Giving Cough and Cold Medicines to Young Children

Posted Aug 26 2008 4:37pm

I wasn’t surprised when I read an Associated Press article today noting that some public health officials and pediatricians believe “that many over-the-counter cough and cold remedies can harm toddlers and preschoolers,” and they “are pushing the government for stricter warnings to prevent life-threatening overdoses.” Call it mother’s instinct or a gut feeling, but I’ve always felt that over-the-counter medications should be used with extreme caution in young children. Most colds and flus are caused by viruses, and thus medications only treat the symptoms, not the illness itself. Over-the-counter medicines won’t make a cold go away any faster, and they can even make things worse if your child has a bad reaction or takes too much. In early 2007, “the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than 1,500 toddlers and babies wound up in emergency rooms over a two-year period because of the drugs,” according to the same Associated Press article. Of course, you should always consult your pediatrician if your child’s illness seems to go beyond a simple cold, but I would also advise that you check with the doctor before giving any over-the-counter medication. If you do decide to use some, do so for only a short period of time and be extra careful not to use too much. I always feel so sorry for my kids when they are sick. As a parent, my first impulse is to give them something to make them feel “all better.” But there’s no magic pill for the common cold except for lots of love, time and rest! And there’s plenty of that to go around at my house.

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