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Poll: Forty percent of parents give young kids medicines they shouldn’t

Are you giving your kids medicines that shouldn’t be used? It turns out that a lot of parents are.

According to the latest University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, more than 40 percents of parents give young kids (under the age of four) medicine that they shouldn’t. These parents reported administering cough medicine or various multi-symptom cough and cold medicines to their children. The poll also revealed that 25 percent of these parents reported giving their children decongestants.

According to a news release from the University of Michigan Health System, kids can get five to 10 colds annually, so it makes sense that many parents try over-the-counter cough and cold medicine to mitigate their children’s symptoms.

However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made it clear that these over-the-counter medicines shouldn’t be given to babies and children younger than two years of age. According to Dr. Matthew M. Davis, director of the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, these medicines can have serious side effects in young children.

In 2008, manufacturers of these medicines altered their labels to warn parents that the medicines should not be given to children under four years of age.

Dr. Davis notes that these medicines fail to shorten the life of the infection. He says that over-the-counter cold medicine is often labeled as “children’s” medication, while the back of the box contains a warning for parents in fine print.

According to Dr. Davis, the side effects from use of these medicines in young children may include allergic reactions, as well as drowsiness or sleeplessness, nausea and constipation. There are numerous other side effects that may be experienced by children under the age of four.

Dr. Davis cautions that parents should read the directions or consult their doctor before administering over-the-counter cough and cold medicine to young children.