THE BLOG
10/21/2007 07:51 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

If You Love Your Children, Don't Give Them Cough Medicine

Things are heating up in the cough medicine arena. Several doctors are practically dragging the FDA backwards through the door of finally doing something about the dangerous practice of giving cold and cough medicine to little kids. These over the counter medications have never been shown to work better than placebos (i.e. giving nothing) in the treatment of colds and coughs. Some moms were chatting over on urbanbabies.com about how they were going to give their kids the cold medicines anyway.

Well let me tell you something, Urban Mommies. When something is found to not work, THAT MEANS IT DOESN'T WORK, i.e. has no effect. So giving it to your kids anyway is like child abuse. If you want them to go to sleep, why don't you just give them Valium, or Jack Daniels (no that is not a real recommendation).

And what is worse than the fact that you pay good money for something that doesn't work, these things can actually kill you kids. There have been at least 54 deaths in children taking decongestants, and 69 deaths with antihistamines. Why are these drugs bad? Some of them contain ingredients like ephedrine, which can stimulate the cardiac system, and others are sedating. Others have multiple ingredients, or two different medications may have the same ingredients, so that parents may be overdosing their kids. So when you put little junior down for that nap he may not get up again. Giving decongestants to toddlers is felt to be particularly risky.

In spite of this, up until last month manufacturers were advertising these medications with the word "toddler" in the label, like Toddler's Dimetapp, Triaminic Infant, and Little Colds, or they put a picture of a baby on the bottle. They said that the medications were safe if used as directed, and that parents were overdosing their kids, not using the medications correctly, and using the medications to put their kids to sleep. Nevertheless, in response to criticism from the experts last month, the manufacturers started voluntarily pulling the products targeted at children under two.

This month an FDA panel recommended a ban on decongestants and cold medications in children under 6. This recommendation is long overdue. Let's hope that the FDA will be able to overcome the special interests in the form of the manufacturers of these medications and their supporters and get these bans on harmful and useless medications put in place. Since they have not been shown to be effective for any children parents should not use them.

Bottom line -- you shouldn't feel like if your kid is sick you have to do something.

Usually, doing nothing is the best parenting approach.