Posts Tagged ‘ common cold ’

Infant Cough and Cold Medicine Warnings Preventing Misuse

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Warnings that children under age 4 should not use over-the-counter cough or cold medicines, even those intended for children, appear to be having a positive effect on the number of families that misuse those products, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics.  More from The New York Times:

Government researchers said on Monday that those moves have had a remarkable effect: a significant decrease in emergency hospital visits by toddlers and infants with suspected medical problems after using these medicines.

Dr. Daniel Frattarelli, a former chairman of the committee on drugs at the American Academy of Pediatrics, praised the study, saying it showed that “the label is a very powerful tool for changing parent behavior.”

In the new study, published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed data from 63 hospitals to estimate the number of emergency visits from 2004 to 2011 by young children who had taken cough and cold medicines.

Children under 2 accounted for 4.1 percent of all emergency visits for suspected drug-related effects before the 2007 withdrawal, the researchers found, and accounted for 2.4 percent afterward. Among 2- to 3-year-olds, emergency room visits linked to cough and cold medicines decreased to 6.5 percent from 9.5 percent after the label change.

Yet there was no significant reduction in emergency visits among children ages 4 to 11. Among 4- and 5-year-olds specifically, visits attributed to cough and cold drugs increased to 6.5 percent from 5.6 percent.

“We’re making great progress in under-2s, and we’re making relatively good progress in 2 to 3s,” said Dr. Don Shifrin, a pediatrician in Seattle and a spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics. “But we’d like better news for kids over 4.”

The new report may reignite the debate over when it is safe for parents to give cough and cold medicines to their children, some experts said.

“I would call this Chapter 1 in the story,” said Dr. Matthew M. Davis, a professor of pediatrics and public policy at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “Chapter 2 is going to require additional changes in policy to reduce adverse drug events for older children, 4 and older, and to ensure safer medications in the home medicine cabinet for all ages.”

Dr. Frattarelli said he would like to see “do not use” labeling for children ages 6 and younger, since the drugs continue to be misused for 4- and 5-year-olds.

Image: Cough medicine, via Shutterstock

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British Middle Schoolers Help Warn Peers of Antibiotic Overuse

Friday, October 11th, 2013

The overuse–and, in the case of using it to treat the common cold, the improper use–of antibiotic drugs is a problem in most of the developed world.  Health experts in the U.S. and overseas worry that over-prescription is resulting in a growing number of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacterial illnesses.  To combat the problem and raise awareness, researchers in England are experimenting with having children share the message “Take care, not antibiotics” with each other.  More from Reuters:

Starting in January, 13-year-olds at the eighth-grade level in England’s schools will be teaching peers and younger kids about microbes, proper hygiene and why antibiotic overuse is a bad thing. Researchers hope to implement a nation-wide program in September 2014.

“The idea is that the kids will go back home and tell their parents what they’ve learned,” said lead researcher Donna Lecky of Public Health England in the United Kingdom.

To counter a worrisome increase in antibiotic-resistant diseases, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in 2008 designated November 18 as European Antibiotic Awareness Day.

In 2010, 24 European Union states, plus Norway and Iceland, reported their most recent antibiotics use to the ECDC. Overall, numbers of antibiotic doses decreased or stabilized in 15 countries and increased in 11 since the last survey in 2009.

The same report stated that the most commonly prescribed antibiotics in community health clinics, not including hospitals, were drugs in the penicillin family, another category known as macrolides and tetracyclines.

Image: Child with a cold, via Shutterstock

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Kids Often Overmedicated for the Common Cold

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Children are often given more medication than they need for expected, routine ailments like the common cold, according to new poll numbers from the University of Michigan.  The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health discovered that 40 percent of children under age 4 were given cough medicine or multi-symptom cough and cold medicine, and 25 percent were given decongestants.

Researchers observed that the findings are alarming in light of a 2008 recommendation from the Food and Drug Administration that children under age 2 should not be given over-the-counter cold and cough medications.

“These products don’t reduce the time the infection will lasts and misuse could lead to serious harm,” says Matthew M. Davis in a statement.  “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 4 years old,” Davis says.

Image: Child with a cold, via Shutterstock

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Study: Honey Calms Nighttime Coughs in Kids

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

It’s often the worst part of colds in little ones: the cough that keeps them (and their parents) up at night. A new study published in the journal Pediatrics builds the evidence that honey can help.

The small study involved 300 children ages 1 to 5, none of whom had asthma or pneumonia, the Washington Post reports. All had been coughing an average of three days due to a cold. Researchers randomly assigned them one of three types of honey or a date syrup placebo, and gave the kids 10 mg about a half hour before bed. Parents later completed a survey about their child’s cough. From the Washington Post:

Comparing the night the children took honey or the placebo with the previous night, coughing was less frequent and less severe, on average, for all the children, whether they got honey or the placebo. Their sleep improved, too, as did their parents’. However, as measured on a 20-point scale that considered all symptoms, improvement was greater among children who had taken honey.

Experts warn that over-the-counter cold and cough remedies can have dangerous side effects in young children, making honey a handy tool. But the researchers did stress that honey should never be given to children younger than 1 year because of the risk of botulism.

Image: Honey pot via Shutterstock.

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Study: Germs Aren’t Always Bad for Kids

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

A new study published in the journal Science is reporting that when mice are exposed to germs early in their lives, they are ultimately healthier and better able to fight infections than mice that were not exposed to germs.  The findings are being touted as encouragement to parents who worry about their children getting sick during toddlerhood and their early school years, concluding that those sniffles and bugs are actually teaching young immune systems to react–but not overreact–to potentially dangerous infections.  Medical ethics professor Arthur Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania writes on

Parents are constantly being told to make their kitchens spotless, to kill 99.9 per cent of the germs lurking in their bathrooms and to wash themselves and their babies all the time.

This world of purity sounds good but it does not fit how we are designed. We are meant to encounter some microbes and dirt when we are young. It is how we built our immune systems. We need a certain amount of grunginess as kids to be healthy adults.

As the Harvard study shows, filth can be good — at least in tiny amounts when you are very young.

Image: Taking a child’s temperature, via Shutterstock

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