Cough and cold medicine alert for parents

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Parents have been alerted to take note of important changes in the latest advice on dispensing cough and cold medicines to their young children.

Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, Catherine King, said a review by the Therapeutic Goods Administration of cough and cold medicines in children had prompted the changes.

“While the review concluded there are no immediate safety risks with these products, it found there was evidence that they may cause harm to children and that the benefits of using them in children have not been proven,” Ms King said.

As a result parents are advised that:

  • Cough and cold medicines should not be given to children under 6 years of age.
  • Cough and cold medicines should only be given to children aged 6 to 11 years on the advice of a doctor, pharmacist or nurse practitioner.
  • Labels on these products will now be changed to reflect this new advice, and will be phased in from next month.

Ms King said that, while a baby or child may appear to have a cold, it could actually be suffering from a much more serious illness such as asthma, influenza, pneumonia, bronchitis, middle ear infection or another infection that requires early medical attention and treatment.

“Cough and cold medicines offer only temporary relief of common symptoms such as runny nose, cough, nasal congestion, fever and aches. They do not affect the severity of the viral infection or shorten the time the infection lasts,” Ms King said.

“An overdose of these medicines can lead to serious harm.”

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Possible side effects from misuse of cough and cold medicines in children include allergic reactions, increased or uneven heart rate, slow and shallow breathing, drowsiness or sleeplessness, confusion or hallucinations, convulsions, nausea and constipation.

Ms King said that, as with all medicines, it is important to read and follow the instructions on the label.

“If you have any doubt about whether your child has a common cold or something more serious, consult a doctor or nurse practitioner,” Ms King said.

For further detailed advice please go the following link:

Source: Department of Health and Ageing

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Date Created: August 21, 2012 Date Modified: February 7, 2013