Don’t give kids under 2 cough mixtures withdrawn by US -Health Ministry

The Ministry of Health is advising parents not to administer cough and cold medication recently withdrawn by the US to children under the age of two.

The United States (US) Consumer Healthcare Products Association, on behalf of the leading makers of over-the-counter cold medicines, announced voluntary withdrawals of oral cough and cold medicines for infants and young children, a press release said. Branded paediatric cough and cold medicines affected by the withdrawals are Dimetapp(R) Decongestant Plus Cough Infant Drops, Dimetapp (R) Decongestant Infant Drops, Little Colds (R) Decongestant Plus Cough, Little Colds (R) Multi-Symptom Cold Formula, Pediacare (R) Infant Drops Decongestant (containing pseudoephedrine), Pedia-care Infant Drops De-congestant and Cough (containing pseudoephedrine), Pediacare (R) Infant Dropper Decongestant (containing phenylephrine), Pediacare Infant Dropper Long-Acting Cough, Pediacare (R) Infant Dropper Decongestant and Cough (containing phenylephrine), Robitussin (R) Infant Cough DM Drops, Triaminic (R) Infant and Toddler Thin Strips (R) Decongestant, Triaminic (R) Infant and Toddler Thins Strips Decongestant Plus Cough, Tylenol (R) Concentrated Infants’ Drops Plus Cold and Tylenol (R) Concentrated Infants’ Drops Plus Cold and Cough.

The release said the reason behind the withdrawals is that there have been rare patterns of misuse leading to overdose recently identified, particularly in infants, and safety is the top priority. Some medicines may also mask underlying serious problems that may lead to a child’s health worsening. The move affects only “infant” oral medicines, not those intended and labelled for use in children age two and older.

Minister of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy, approved the withdrawals after consultations with the chief medical officer. He is advising parents that single ingredient and cold medication such as children’s paracetamol and children’s Motrin can still be used. The ministry also said children under two years of age suffering with cold or cough should be evaluated by a health care professional especially if the child has a fever. Further, children suffering with coughs and colds should be given plenty of fluids and rest; suction bulbs can be used to gently clear infants’ clogged noses or saline nose drops can be administered to loosen thick secretions so noses can drain more easily.

Also, a cool-mist humidifier can be used in the child’s bedroom; acetaminophen or ibuprofen, on a doctor’s recommendation, can be used to alleviate pain or discomfort however, parents are advised to check that these drugs do not contain extra ingredients. Some chest creams with menthol or other fragrances can be used to ease stuffiness but parents are advised to check labels for age restrictions. The ministry also said that medicines that suppress cough are not recommended for children under two years since coughing is a response that protects a child’s lung against noxious agents.

It said too that the Food and Drugs Department is continuing to investigate all the additives to medicines provided for cough and cold under the Essential Drug List (EDL), to the public. The objective of the investigation is to determine if any of the current products on the EDL contain any of the ingredients deemed to be unsafe by the US Food and Drug Administration.

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