Drug companies: No cold medicines for kids under 4

Drug companies have new advice to parents: Don't give over-the-counter cold remedies to kids under 4.

Why the change?

Pediatricians doubt the drugs do much good for children and worry about risks. Pediatricians had petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to ban the medications for kids under 6. The new instructions are on packages that started hitting stores this week.

What are the dangers?

Problems with over-the-counter cough and cold medicines send some 7,000 children to hospital emergency rooms each year, with symptoms including hives and unsteady walking.

Anything else?

The companies also say not to give antihistamines to kids to help them sleep. How big of a deal is it?

U.S. families spend at least $287-million a year on cold remedies for kids, according to Nielsen Co. statistics that do not include Wal-Mart sales.

So what should parents do?

What sniffling little ones need, doctors said, are plenty of fluids and lots of tender, loving care. Dr. Laura Herrera, a Baltimore family practitioner, said kids with colds usually get better in a few days. Coughs and sniffles are a sign that the body is doing its work. Parents may want to give Tylenol or Motrin if a child is running a fever of 101 degrees or higher, Herrera said. And children should be watched for any signs of trouble breathing, which could signal more serious problems.

Drug companies: No cold medicines for kids under 4 10/07/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 8, 2008 1:25pm]

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