Cold Medication Can Be Harmful To Children Under 6, Study Says

By  | 
child sick cold

Image: iStock / tatyana_tomsickova

Now that fall is here, we know cold season is coming. As the temperature drops, kids become even more susceptible to germs. Being in school with a bunch of other kids coughing and sneezing is a recipe for disaster. We all know that a sick kid can be awful. They’re miserable, clingy and uncomfortable. So naturally, we will do whatever we can to alleviate that misery, for everyone’s benefit. The easiest way to do that is usually giving them cold medication. But, a there is new research saying cold medication can be harmful for kids under the age of six.

The study, published by The BMJ, states that kids will have between six and eight colds a year. It also warns against prescribing kids under 12 decongestants. Because there is limited evidence to their effectiveness, and there may associated risks. Consumer Affairs lists those risks as: hypertension and convulsions. When they say decongestants, they mean nasal decongestants. And they warn to stay away from antihistamines for kids under six. For kids between six and 12, they say use caution.

“Unfortunately, our research shows there’s very little evidence,” Dr. Mieke van Driel, a professor of general practice and head of the primary care clinical unit at the University of Queensland in Australia, and first author on the study tells The New York Times. Worth noting is the fact that the FDA says we shouldn’t be giving kids under two cold medication. The The AAP extends that warning to kids under six. Because of this, less kids end up in the emergency room. If you do give medication, the FDA warns to watch your dosing. If you’re giving cold medication too frequently or giving too much, you’re running a risk.

“Parents are always worried that something bad is happening and they have to do something,” Dr. Van Driel notes.

But fear not, there are ways to keep your kids comfortable. They just don’t involve medications. Dr. Shonna Yin tells the Times that kids need to be hydrated. You can also give kids over one year honey for a cough. If your kid has a fever, you can give ibuprofen or acetaminophen. And if their noses are stuffy, try saline drops.