Has your little one been sick yet? They’re miserable, congested, can’t sleep (which in turn means you can’t sleep) and just generally cranky! Up all night, you pace, try sitting in the steaming bathroom, and maybe sometimes your desperate enough to use cold medicine? This could turn out to be a fatal error.
The CDC is now issuing a warning to parents that they should never give their infants cough or cold medicine without talking to a physician. Recently, a medical examiner ruled that cough and cold medicine was the underlying cause in the death of three infants, ages 1 to 6 months old. Statistics show that in 2004 and 2005, over 1,400 babies were treated in the emergency room as the result of taking cough and cold medications.
Because of the risk of overdosing, lack of instructions and lack of research supporting that these medications are effective in infants younger than two, the CDC is recommending that parents don’t give these medications to their child. Interestingly, as a side note they point out that thus far, research indicates that these medications are no more effective than a placebo in infants younger than two.
As a parent though, I have to admit it is confusing when you go to the store. I went to the cold medication section of my local drug store, and found that there are medications labeled for infants (such as Tylenol Infants’ Cold Medication) as well as for children (for example, (Tylenol Children’s Cold Medication). However, parents need to be especially diligent in reading instructions; even the Infants’ medication is for children over 2.
So what’s a weary parent to do? Keep that lovely blue syringe they give you in the hospital and use saline drops. For a particularly bad cold, camp out in a steamy bathroom and if you can have your child sleep propped up in a sitting position, this helps congestion. NEVER give your child cold medicine, especially ones that contain pseudoephedrine (cough suppressant). If your child is miserable with a fever or in pain, Infants’ Tylenol (or something similar) is fine.
I think the most important lesson here is to follow the directions. We live in a time when it seems parents are ’medication happy’. There’s a drug for just about every ailment on the market but sometimes the old fashioned, home remedies are the best.