Parents continue to give infants cold medicine despite government warnings

By Carrie Johnson Weimar • Published: May 6th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

As a parent, there are few things as heart-wrenching as seeing your toddler suffer through an illness. But no matter how tempting it may be to give a small child a dose of cold medication, the Food and Drug Administration has one word: Don’t. However, despite repeated warnings, more than half of all parents continue to put their children at risk by administering these over-the-counter remedies.

A recent F-D-A poll found that sixty-one percent of parents had given their children aged two or younger such medications within the last year. Among those who had administered the medicine, half said their children’s health care provider approved of their use.

Use was much lower among families whose income was more than one-hundred thousand per year. Conversely, families that earned less than thirty-thousand per year had the highest usage.

Most of the parents who gave the over-the-counter drugs said their motivation was to keep their child comfortable during the day or to help them sleep at night.

The results are troubling to health experts, who have said repeatedly that the drugs are ineffective and even harmful for children under the age of two. In fact, the F-D-A issued a warning in 2008, which led to a voluntary recall of many of the products aimed at young children. The F-D-A was prompted by a report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which found three deaths and more than fifteen-hundred adverse effects in infants and toddlers linked to these medications.

So how should you treat a toddler’s cold? Many physicians prescribe gentler methods, such as irrigating the nose with a soft suction tube, saline nose drops or a humidifier.

And take heart. Most kids get lots of colds. An average of six to ten a year. And the vast majority simply run their course on their own.