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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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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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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Tuesday, September 6th, 2011
Health officials say four children were infected with a new strain of swine flu, MSNBC.com reports.
All four children, three girls and one boy, have recovered or are recovering, and were infected through contact with pigs. The virus does not appear to spread easily from person to person, experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say.
MSNBC.com gave these details about symptoms in two of the children:
In July, the boy was taken to a hospital emergency department with flulike symptoms of fever, cough and diarrhea, where a respiratory test confirmed influenza A (H3). The boy, who has multiple chronic health conditions, was briefly hospitalized. He had not been directly exposed to swine but a caretaker had been in direct contact with swine in the weeks before the boy became ill.
In August, [one of the girls] was also taken to a hospital emergency department with similar symptoms and discharged. A few days before she became sick with a fever, cough and lethargy, she reportedly visited an agricultural fair where she was exposed to swine.
This brand-new flu strain picked up a gene from the H1N1 strain that set off the flu pandemic in 2009 and 2010. Gene sharing among flu viruses is common, and causes problems when it creates novel strains to which people lack immunity, The Washington Post explained.
The new swine flu is unlikely to trigger a pandemic the way H1N1 did, experts say. CDC spokesman Tom Skinner told MSNBC.com, “There’s no evidence of sustained transmission from human to human.”
MSNBC also reported that in the first two cases, both children received flu vaccines in September 2010, which protected them against H1N1, but wouldn’t protect against the new virus.
(image via: http://www.drtalented.com)
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