Cough and cold medications harmful to kids

Readily available over-the-counter cough and cold medications can do your kid more harm than good, warn Canadian researchers who have suggested stronger measures to curtail the use of these medications among children.

The research comes on the heels of India recently banning the manufacture and sale of more than 300 combination medicines, including two widely used cough syrups.

For the current study, the researchers asked parents of 3,500 children under the age of six about their use of cough and cold medications from 2008 to 2011.

The researchers found that about 18 percent of children still received cough and cold medications despite label warnings advising against their use in children under the age six in 2009.

Following the introduction of Health Canada’s 2009 labelling requirement, there has been a small decrease in over-the-counter cough and cold medication use in children — down from 22 per cent before the change.

“We found that a large number of young children continue to receive over-the-counter cough and cold medications even with evidence of harm, public health advisories from government agencies and mandated labelling requirements for manufacturers,” said lead researcher Jonathon Maguire from St. Michael’s Hospital in Ontario.

“In addition, evidence suggests these medications are not effective in young children. With no real benefit and documented risks, stronger measures may be needed to curtail their use,” Maguire noted.

“I think a lot of parents would be surprised to learn that these medications can be harmful to children,” Maguire said.

“Better public awareness as well as making these readily available medications harder to purchase may help to reduce their use,” Maguire pointed out.