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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Study: Vicks VapoRub can be harmful to kids under 2



Mom_vaporub_2Just a few weeks ago, I got a couple emails from friends who swore that slathering Vicks VapoRub on the soles of their kids' feet eased their coughs. It sounded like a good idea because my own Mom used Vicks on me, my brother and sisters all the time. A smear just below the nose to open up breathing. Slathered on the chest and bundled up tight to ease congestion when coughing seemed worse at night.

But now a study says that you must watch how you use Vicks, especially on kids 2 and under. In those children, the study found that it can cause potentially dangerous breathing problems. The study came about when an 18-month-old girl who had an upper respiratory infection was more ill than doctors thought she should be. When the girl's grandparents were aksed about what could have caused this, they said they had put some Vicks under her nose. Since then, other children under the age of 2 have been identified with the same reaction to Vicks.

“In a small child who may be hypersensitive, this can make the airways even smaller,” said Dr. Bruce K. Rubin, vice chairman of the department of pediatrics at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., said in a story for MSNBC.

The folks at Vicks say that the warning is right there on the label: VapoRub is not for kids under 2 and should not be rubbed directly under anyone's nose. And now the company has put up a message on its Web site to tell parents how to safely use the product.

But the doctors who did the study say that parents may not be paying attention to the warnings. "I don't think that parents ignore this warning, but I think they feel relief when they use [Vicks VapoRub] themselves, and it's an over-the-counter drug ... and, therefore, not thought of as anything that can cause problems," Rubin told ABC News. "But sick children may respond differently than you'd anticipate."

We all know Momma knows best, but maybe we should take a step back from the old home remedies and consider whether we are doing more harm than good. Just as doctors have warned about the use of over-the-counter cold remedies for children 4 and younger, you may want to just check in with your pediatrician before deciding to be Dr. Mom.

-- Sherry Robinson

[Last modified: Thursday, May 13, 2010 10:58am]


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