OTC Cold & Cough Medicine – a “No No” for children under 4

I just received this message from Madeline’s pediatrician – thought others would find it helpful.:
You are receiving this secure message because you created an iHealthRecord
for a child younger than 4 years old.�

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), an association that
represents most of the makers of nonprescription over-the-counter (OTC)
cough and cold medicines in children, recently announced that its members
are voluntarily modifying the product labels for consumers of OTC cough
and cold medicines to state “do not use” for children under 4 years of
age. Additionally, the manufacturers are introducing new child-resistant
packaging and new measuring devices for use with the products. These steps
are being taken to help prevent and reduce misuse of over-the-counter
medications and to better inform consumers about the safe and effective
use of these products in children.�

Parents should be aware that this voluntary label change will result in a
transition period where the instructions on the labels of some OTC cough
and cold medicines in children will be different from others. Some
products will have the new label that states “do not use” for children
under 4 years of age, while other products on store shelves may still have
older labels that state the product should not be used for children under
2 years of age.

The FDA also recommends the following safety measures to parents and

. Do not give children medications labeled only for adults.

. Talk to your healthcare professional if you have any questions about
using cough or cold medicines in children.

. Choose OTC cough and cold medicines with child-resistant safety caps,
when available. After each use, make sure to close the cap tightly and
store the medicines out of the sight and reach of children.

. Check the “active ingredients” section of the DRUG FACTS label of the
medicines that you choose. This will help you understand what symptoms
the “active ingredients” in the medicine are intended to treat. Cough and
cold medicines often have more than one active ingredient (such as an
antihistamine, a decongestant, a cough suppressant, an expectorant or a
pain reliever/fever reducer).

. Be very careful if you are giving more than one medicine to a child. If
you are giving more than one medicine to a child make sure that they do
not have the same type of “active ingredients.” If you use two medicines
that have the same or similar active ingredients, a child could get too
much of an ingredient, which could hurt the child. For example, do not
give a child more than one medicine that has a decongestant.

. Carefully follow the directions for how to use the medicine in the DRUG
FACTS part of the label. These directions tell you how much medicine to
give and how often you can give it. If you have a question about how to
use the medicine, ask your pharmacist or your doctor. Overuse or misuse of
these products can lead to serious and potentially life threatening side
effects such as rapid heartbeat, drowsiness, suppression of the
respiratory system, seizures and other adverse events.

.�Only use measuring devices that come with the medicine or those
specially made for measuring drugs. Do not use common household spoons to
measure medicines for children because household spoons come in different
sizes and are not meant for measuring medicines.

. Understand that using OTC cough and cold medicines does not cure the
cold or cough. These medicines only treat your child’s symptom(s) such as
runny nose, congestion, fever and aches.� They do not shorten the length
of time your child is sick.


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