Careful! Cold medicines are not for small children

While more consumers may begin looking to zinc as remedies for their colds, new data indicate that many parents are inappropriately administering other over-the-counter (OTC) cold remedies to their infants. The National Poll on Children’s Health conducted by researchers at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich. found that an average of nearly two-thirds of parents with children ages two and younger had given their children OTC cold medications. Black and low-income families were reported having the highest usage of 80 percent. In 2008, the FDA warned that the risks associated with these medications outweighed the benefits when given to infants. The reason most commonly reported by parents for administrating the medicines was to help their children fall asleep. Perhaps more startling is the finding that more than half of parents reported that their physicians recommended the cold remedies for their infants.

ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross wonders if the warning labels on these medications are not clear enough. “The statement ‘Parents should not give their infants OTC cold medicine’ needs to be written clearly on the packaging, if it’s not already,” he asserts. “It’s so disappointing that family physicians and pediatricians are not informing parents about this by now.”