Health Canada Warns No Cough And Cold Medication for Children Under Six

Health Canada Warns No Cough And Cold Medication for Children Under SixScientific data on cough and cold products revealing potential risks far outweighing the benefits, has led the Federal Department of Canada to issue a warning that children under six should not be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medications.

According to the review, limited evidence to support the effectiveness of these products in children, comes with reports of misuse, overdose and rare side-effects, raising concerns about treating children under six with these medicines.

The rare but serious potential side-effects include convulsions, increased heart rate, decreased level of consciousness, abnormal heart rhythms and hallucinations.

Though the risk is relatively low, over the last 13-years, a number of adverse reactions, many of them serious, have been reported in children. From January 1995 to 2008, Health Canada received 164 reports of adverse events related to OTC cough and cold medications in children under 12, including 105 considered serious. There were 124 adverse reactions, 80 of them serious in children under six. Five children aged two and under taking the medications died, though it is not yet confirmed that misuse or overdose of the products caused their deaths.

However, young children, especially those under six are particularly vulnerable to adverse reactions or accidental overdose, due to low body weight and because these children are too young to be able to tell their parents or caregivers, when they experience any problems.

A wide range of over-the-counter cough and cold medicines are sold in Canada and fall into four categories: antihistamines to ease sneezing and runny nose; antitussives for cough; expectorants to loosen mucus; and decongestants. Many combine more than one class of ingredient.

Manufacturers of over-the-counter cough and cold medicines, from antihistamines to ease sneezing and runny nose; anti-tussives for cough; expectorants to loosen mucus; and decongestants, have been told to revise their labelling to reflect Health Canada 's new recommendations.

According to the new rules, cough and cold medication for children aged six to 12 will be given only after consultation with a pharmacist or other health professional Instead, paediatricians will inform parents and caregivers of alternative therapies to reduce the symptoms of coughs and colds.

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