SAEM: Infants Still Receiving Cough and Cold Medications

June 4, 2008

Despite reports of deaths associated with use of infant over-the-counter cough and cold medications that led manufacturers to withdraw such products from the market, a high proportion of infants presenting at emergency departments with bronchiolitis received a cough/cold medication during the previous week, according to research presented this week at the annual meeting of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine in Washington, D.C.

WEDNESDAY, June 4 (HealthDay News) -- Despite reports of deaths associated with use of infant over-the-counter cough and cold medications that led manufacturers to withdraw such products from the market, a high proportion of infants presenting at emergency departments with bronchiolitis received a cough/cold medication during the previous week, according to research presented this week at the annual meeting of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine in Washington, D.C.

Katherine O'Donnell, M.D., of Children's Hospital Boston, and colleagues evaluated 1,459 children under age 2 who were diagnosed with bronchiolitis at 30 centers between 2004 and 2006.

The researchers found that 442 (30 percent) of the children had received a cough/cold medication the week before presentation. They found that recent antibiotic use was the strongest predictor of cough/cold medication use (odds ratio, 1.7) and that cough/cold medication use was less likely among children under age 12 months and in those who had previously been hospitalized (ORs, 0.4 and 0.6, respectively).

"Given these findings and the fact that non-concentrated cough/cold formulations remain available for over-the-counter use, we encourage emergency department physicians to counsel all parents of young children about these medications," the authors write.

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