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When Your Child Has a Cold, Are You Using the Right Medicine?

    In an article entitled "What Medicines are Bad for Children?" published in the United Evening News on July 12, 2006, it was pointed out that when children catch cold they often have a cough and the doctor might write a prescription for a cough suppressant to alleviate the symptoms. Nevertheless, not every medication is appropriate for very young children. According to an article published in 2001 by the World Health Organization (WHO) focusing on suggestions regarding the treatment of childhood coughs, because young children two years old and younger have a glucuronidation system that is not yet fully developed and functioning, it is wrong to use a cough suppressant that contains codeine, thus they recommend not using a medication made with codeine. When children over two years of age use codeine-based medications, special attention should be given to dosage and side effects, such as drowsiness, ataxia and vomiting. If the child has a history of asthma or is a premature baby and the adult suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease then this type of medication should be avoided.

    The BNHI discovered in analyzing NHI reported data for 2005 that among the 6.79 million childhood colds reported for children two years old and under, 6% of the cases, representing some 118,000 persons, used preparations with codeine. Among this number the most serious situations occurred at the community clinic level where prescriptions were written for 110,000 people (18%) [These numbers and percentages do not seem to add up correctly. --tr.] Because 99% of the medications containing codeine used for treating coughs were compounds, in most cases it was impossible to tell if the product contained codeine just by reading the name, and medical institutions had to carefully read the accompanying information sheet to really know. So for this reason, when children take a medication for a cough, parents should pay careful attention to the packaging label for information on ingredients, dosage and instructions, or they should ask their doctor or pharmacist about this information, in order to guarantee medication safety for the child. The BNHI will increase its investigation of medical institutions prescribing medications containing codeine.

  • Date:2006-08-17