PINELLAS COUNTY – Attorney General Bill McCollum issued a consumer advisory on Jan. 17 after the Food and Drug Administration warned that over-the-counter cold medicines should not be given to children under age 2.
The FDA advisory cites possible side effects that could be serious and potentially life-threatening in babies and toddlers and warns parents that while the medicines might appear to ease cold symptoms in older children, there is no evidence that they actually help younger children.
"It is imperative that parents get this important message of safety for their young children," McCollum said. "When a child is sick, our first instinct is to do whatever we can to make them feel better, but parents need to be aware that medicines once thought to be safe could instead be deadly."
McCollum reminded parents that cold season is still in full swing and parents should make sure they don’t give their younger children medicine they may have purchased to give their older siblings.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last year that more than 1,500 babies and toddlers wound up in emergency rooms over a two-year period because of the drugs. The FDA has also found more than 120 child deaths have been directly linked to antihistamines or decongestants over the past 40 years.
The FDA has not yet determined whether older children are also at risk but offered the following guidelines for parents when giving older children the medicines:
- Follow the dosing directions on the label of any over-the-counter medication;
- Understand that these drugs will NOT cure or shorten the duration of the common cold;
- Check the "Drug Facts" label to learn what active ingredients are in the products because many over-the-counter cough and cold products contain multiple active ingredients; and
- Only use measuring spoons or cups that come with the medicine or those made specifically for measuring drugs.