Pseudoephedrine use declining among U.S. children

By Tom Nordlie • Published: April 20th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

When you have a stuffy nose, you want fast relief.

But if you’ve bought products containing the decongestant pseudoephedrine [SOO-doe-eh-FED-rinn] recently, you’ve probably noticed that relief takes some extra time at the cash register.

Pursuant to a federal law designed to thwart illicit methamphetamine labs, many cold and allergy medications are now kept behind the drug-store counter. And you have to sign for them.

Oddly enough, this inconvenience may have an unintended benefit for young children.

It seems to be reducing their exposure to pseudoephedrine.

That’s a good thing, because the drug has been linked to deaths and adverse reactions among this age group.

What’s more, children under two are at the highest risk for toxicity, and safe dosing recommendations for them are often lacking.

Yet pseudoephedrine was widely available in kids’ medicines, and parents bought them.

According to an article published in the journal Pediatrics, in any given week from 1999 to 2005, about five percent of U-S children under eighteen took a medication containing pseudoephedrine.

In 2006, when the new law took effect, that number dropped to about three percent.

Also, manufacturers have now replaced pseudoephedrine with another decongestant in pediatric cold medicines.

But parents need to be alert to two things.

First, check the ingredients of any cold or allergy medicine you plan to give young children.

And, if pseudoephedrine is included, check with your child’s doctor before administering the medicine.

It may be inconvenient, but your child’s health is worth a little extra time and trouble.