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Cold Medicines Inneffective and Even Dangerous for Infants

A report released in the January 12, 2007 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published by the Centers for Disease Control, (CDC), and reported by numerous news outlets, reports that over-the-counter cough and cold medications can be harmful or even deadly to infants. According to the report, in 2004 and 2005 1,500 children under the age of 2 were treated in emergency rooms for problems related to taking such medications, and three died.

Dr. Adam Cohen, an officer in the Epidemic Intelligence Service at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stated, "Cough and cold medicines can be harmful, and even fatal, and should be used with caution in children under 2 years of age." The articles note that The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved the use of over-the-counter cough and cold medicines in children over the age of 2. In spite of this the usage under that age is wide spread.


According to the articles, studies have concluded that such medications are no more effective on infants than a placebo. Dr. Michael Marcus, director of pediatric pulmonology, allergy and immunology at the Maimonides Infants & Children's Hospital in New York City stated, "Cold and cough medications, especially medications containing pseudoephedrine [a nasal decongestant], have never been shown to have any beneficial effect on children less than 2 years of age, yet they clearly can have significant harmful effects."

Dr. Cohen of the CDC summed up his recomendations by saying, "Parents should never give medicine without consulting a health-care provider, even over-the-counter," Cohen added. "Many over-the-counter medicines may be marketed for infants, and there are no approved dosing recommendations from the FDA for this age group. There's very little evidence that they help in children under 2."