FDA questions safety of children's cold medicine - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

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FDA questions safety of children's cold medicine

FDA questions safety of children's cold medicine
By: Crystal Britt

JACKSON, Mo. - If your child gets sick you'll likely do anything you can to make him or her feel better. But, when it comes to our youngest kids over-the-counter drugs can be scary, and if handled wrong can be deadly. Now, the government says it's time to dig deeper and find out, are they safe?

Most children handle the medicine fine, but a recent CDC study of hospital emergency room records shows at least 1,519 children under two suffered serious health problems after being treated with cough and cold medicines. In fact, three died. But, as many local pharmacist point out, the drugs can be very helpful to sick kids. It all starts with parents paying attention, and reading the labels.

"I always felt safe using over the counter." It's been awhile since Angel Newell's bought toddler and infant medication. Her children are beyond those stages. But, she says she never thought twice about giving them cough medicine and decongestants. "I think controlling the symptoms is good to get it right from the beginning yourself", said Newell. However, the FDA wants a closer look because some medicines can affect the heart, and in some cases cause strokes. Pharmacist Kelley Pipkin says that's worst case scenario. More often than not, cold medicine is helpful--possibly preventing things like ear infections. "If you can stop it at first, stop some of that drainage that sinus at the beginning, may be you won't get to that", said Pipkin. Pipkin's also a mother of two boys ages eight and four. She gave her children cold medicine, and says you shouldn't worry about doing the same. "There are a lot of really good things over the counter, and they've changed them in the past year with all the Sudafed laws. So, there are safer decongestants out there to still use", said Pipkin. 

While new regulations could come, Pipkin hopes the government doesn't start pulling drugs. "I think it would be bad if they started taking things off the market, and taking some of the good new things we've gotten." She says it's all about following directions, especially when it comes to children under 2. Doses depend on age and weight. It's something parents like Angel Newell says she always checked and double checked. "I would hate to see everyday products pulled off the market, because you can over medicate by going to the doctor as well", said Newell.

Pharmacists say for infants, don't use a spoon-use a dropper. You want to be very specific. The FDA says most over the counter cold and cough medicines never were adequately tested on children. So there's a fear no one really knows what's a safe and effective dose.

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