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Over the Counter Medications Causing Trips to the Emergency Room for Young Kids


Posted on Nov 13, 2013

Many people become quite nervous when they have a sick child, especially now during cold and flu season. But is an expensive trip to the emergency room always necessary? 

The New York Times reports on the advancements that over-the-counter medicines have made.  “The makers revised the labels on the rest of the medicines, which now warn parents that they should not be given to children younger than 4. Government researchers said on Monday that those moves have had a remarkable effect: a significant decrease in emergency hospital visits by toddlers and infants with suspected medical problems after using these medicines,” according to The Times.

Changing the warning labels has had a positive effect in multiple ways. Now parents are using the medicines on age appropriate children. The other benefit is that now parents are using the medicine more effectively so again children then do not need to visit the ER for treatment, which saves parents thousands of dollars. ER visits are often unnecessary for many colds and flu that children acquire at this time of the year.

But many children over the age of four are still being taken to the ER often and researchers are urging parents to save money and pursue normal medicines first.

The Times reports, “There was no significant reduction in emergency visits among children ages 4 to 11. Among 4- and 5-year-olds specifically, visits attributed to cough and cold drugs increased to 6.5 percent from 5.6 percent.” One pediatrician told The Times, “We’re making great progress in under-2s, and we’re making relatively good progress in 2 to 3s, but we’d like better news for kids over 4.” He also stated that some medicine labels still are not comprehensive enough and parents should be aware of that fact. 

“The label doesn’t reflect the current evidence that these medications are ineffective for treating cough and cold symptoms in kids under 6.” The Food and Drug Administration has been reviewing the issues surrounding cough medication made for children for many years but said they are not ready to issue a statement at this time.

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Gerry Oginski
NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer