Health and Safety at Bright Horizons®

Cough and Cold Medicines for Young Children

Questions have been raised about the effectiveness and safety of cough and cold medicines for young children. An advisory panel of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended banning over-the-counter cough and cold products intended for children under the age of 6. The panel found that there was no evidence that the medicines alleviated cold symptoms in children, and there were a small number of reports that they have caused serious harm.

A week earlier, major drug manufacturers agreed to voluntarily withdraw more than a dozen cold products labeled for use for children under 2. There is more controversy about products for children ages 2 to 5. The FDA advisory panel had a close vote regarding a product ban. Linda Suydam, president of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a trade group, defended the products and said, "We believe these products will remain on the market."

One concern expressed is that if the medicines are not available, some parents may choose to use products intended for older children or adults in doses inappropriate and potentially harmful for young children. What should a parent do? We encourage families to only use medications as directed on the packaging and to speak with their pediatricians. You can also visit the Web site of the American Academy of Pediatrics for information about the controversy.