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Parents Are Giving Too Much Cough Medications to their Children, Study Reports

Update Date: Apr 23, 2013 11:21 AM EDT

When young children come down with the cold, some parents are quick to reach for the bottle of children's cough syrup. Although parents want to alleviate the pain children feel when they are sick, a new survey composed from the University of Michigan Mott Children's Hospital National Poll, suggests that parents tend to give their children cough medications too often. The frequency of the administration of these medications for children might lead to detrimental side effects.

According to the poll, over 40 percent of parents choose to give over-the-counter cold syrup and medications to children under the age of four years old; 25 percent of parents give decongestants. Although the medications might alleviate symptoms and pain, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises against using these drugs for children under four. In 2008, the FDA required drug manufacturers to issue a warning informing consumers that the medications are not considered to be safe for children under four. Despite this warning, it seems like parents continue to use these drugs to treat their toddlers.

"What can be confusing, however, is that often these products are labeled prominently as 'children's' medications. The details are often on the back of the box, in small print That's where parents and caregivers can find instructions that they should not be used in children under four years old," the director of the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health, Matthew M. David, M.D., M.A.P.P., stated.

Even though the label might be misleading, parents must be more careful when they give medications to their children. Parents must start perusing the warning labels and instructions carefully before they continue to administer dosages of these medications that have not been proven to be effective for young children. The researchers stated that these drugs could in fact lead to serious conditions, such as allergic reactions, drowsiness, hallucinations, or nausea.

"Because young children often suffer from cold-like symptoms, more research is needed to test the safety and efficacy of these cough and cold medicines in our littlest patients," David added.

The report did not find any significant differences in terms of social economic status, race, and sex in parents who use over-the-counter medications. The report can be found here.

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