Cold meds send 7,000 kids to hospitals

Published by admin on Sun, 2011-11-20 19:41

By MIKE STOBBE, AP Medical Writer, Jan. 28, 2008

ATLANTA - Cough and cold medicines send about 7,000 children to hospital emergency rooms each year, the U.S. government said Monday in its first national estimate of the problem.

About two-thirds of the cases were children who took the medicines unsupervised. However, about one-quarter involved cases in which parents gave the proper dosage and an allergic reaction or some other problem developed, the study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

The study included both over-the-counter and prescription medicines. It comes less than two weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned parents that over-the-counter cough and cold medicines are too dangerous for children younger than 2.

The study's findings about the proportion of properly dosed kids who end up in the ER is likely to contribute to FDA discussions about recommendations of cough and cold medicines in the 2-to-6 age group, CDC officials said.

CDC researchers gathered case reports of children 11 and under who had taken cough and cold medications and wound up in 63 hospitals studied in 2004 and 2005. They used that number to come up with the national estimate.

About 1,600 of the estimated 7,100 children are under 2, so the FDA's guidance — if followed — should reduce such ER cases by 23 percent.

Nearly two-thirds of the cases involved kids ages 2 to 5, the CDC found.

"The main message is no medication left in the hands of a 3-year-old is safe," said the CDC's Dr. Melissa Schaefer.

Many of the ER case reports were not specific about symptoms, and the researchers did not follow cases through to conclusion. So they did not know if — or how many — deaths resulted, said Schaefer, an epidemiologist who was the study's lead author.

For the children whose symptoms were reported, allergic reactions like hives and itching were most common, and neurological symptoms like drowsiness and unsteady walking were next, she said.

Most of the medicines involved were liquid combinations of cough and cold treatments, CDC researchers said.

Of the children who reportedly got the right dose of medication, about a third were younger than 2, but more than half were ages 6 to 11, the study found.

Some children suffer side effects from medications, so those results aren't necessarily unexpected, Schaefer said. The FDA will have to balance data like this against the medicines' benefits and other factors, she added.

"What we gave them was a piece of the puzzle," she said.

Parents should not encourage children to take medicine by telling them its candy, and parents should also avoid taking adult medications in front of kids, CDC officials said.

The study will appear in the April issue of Pediatrics, a journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.


CDC Web page on medication safety:


My Comment: I can’t imagine giving children under 5 commercial cough and cold medications. There are much better natural remedies and helps, but of course they might take a little more of a parent’s time. I wonder what percentage of these children are Mexican/Mestizo (they’re acculturated to take medicine at the slightest discomfort and to self-medicate) or African-American? It’s very likely, though, that the white parents are just as guilty, since they’re so brainwashed by TV advertising.

All these preparations contain questionable ingredients that are foreign to our bodies, especially the bodies of still developing young children. It’s just too bad we must live in a world where we can hardly get a breath of pure air, but are constantly breathing in contaminants. School is one of the worst places for being exposed to contagious colds, flus and viruses. That’s why home-schooled children are healthier than their public-schooled peers, as well as smarter.

This is just one more reason not to believe the claims of pharmaceutical ads.



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