Your Medicine Cabinet Can Kill Your Kid

K. Emily Bond
6

cold medicine for sick toddlersPer a new study in the journal Pediatrics, the number of babies and toddlers being rushed to the emergency room due to cough and cold medicines plummeted by more than 50 percent. This, after manufacturers stopped selling products labeled for children under the age of 2. What great news!

The number of kids ages 2 to 11, however, who went to the ER after taking cough and cold medications is apparently status quo.

Why? About two-thirds of OTC-related emergency room visits occur because children get into medications when mom and dad aren’t around. Try as we may to store medications properly, when everyone is home sick with the flu, even the most diligent parent can get a little sloppy with the childproofing. The odd toddler palate could also be to blame. Take my son, for example, who used to like mac 'n' cheese. Ever since he got a taste of orange-flavored expectorant, all he wants is “yum, more!” of the syrupy goop.

Back in October 2007, way before many of us had our latest batch of toddlers, manufacturers agreed to pull so-called infant over-the-counter cough and cold products citing concerns about safety and effectiveness. Then in 2008, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association updated cough and cold medicine labels warning users not to give them to children under the age of 4. Because their little respiratory systems are still developing, cold and flu meds can cause abnormal heart rhythms and seizures; they can even cause kids to stop breathing.

I, for one, loathe to give my 22-month-old son anything for his sniffles and other seasonal ailments. It’s not because I enjoy watching him suffer, quite the contrary. Obviously. It just makes me so nervous to dole out meds to his little body, perhaps irrationally so. Yes, I measure and meter out the doses the way I’m supposed to. But I hate it ... I hate it so!

How about you? Are you freaked out by the idea of giving your toddler OTC meds? Are your medicines out of your child's reach?



Image via mikedemers/Flickr

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