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FDA bans children's cough and cold medications

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted October 19, 2007 to ban over the counter cold and cough medicines for children under age 6, noting that there is no proof that these medications work for young children and they can cause serious harm. Fortunately for parents a number of natural remedies could help.

The ban could take several years to go into effect because it must first go through an official rule making process. In the meantime, the panel is requesting that the drug manufactures conduct studies on the safety and efficacy of their pediatric cold and cough drugs. Many manufactures said they would fight the proposed ban, although some did voluntarily pull their infant formulas from store shelves.

At least 54 young children have died as a result of taking nonprescription cold medications, and 69 have died after taking antihistamines since the drugs were approved for OTC sales in the early 1970s, according to an FDA report. During the past two years thousand's of young children were admitted to emergency rooms for complications from taking cold medications, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"When you're dealing with medical issues such as these, it's a question of weighing the risks and the benefits. In this case the risk, which can be death, out weights the benefit of maybe relieving a stuffy nose," said Dr. Iris Bell director of research for the program in integrative medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.

According to Dr. Lauren Feder, author of Natural Baby and Childcare (Hather Leigh, 2006), OTC cough and cold medications for children, which include brands such as PediaCare and Triaminic, can be unsafe for a variety of reasons. For instance, many kids' cough and cold medicines are multipurpose formulas, but parents may not realize and may combine the formula with a cough medicine, essentially double dosing their children, she said.

Although death and seizures do occur, other less severe side effects can occur on a regular basis. "Decongestants can make you more stimulated, which is not so good for the heart or if you are trying to rest," Dr. Feder said. "Antihistamines can make you more drowsy, which can interfere with breathing.

Here at the Shasta Mandala Wellness Center, Dr. Haberski believes that children are better off without these medications and is pleased that the FDA is working to ban them. The symptoms that the drugs are made to suppress are actually a way that our bodies work to keep invaders out, a runny nose and fever are fighting off invaders. The medications will interfere with the natural healing process of our bodies and prolong the symptoms.

To help our children heal more quickly, Dr. Haberski recommends that natural products be used to help with the healing process. Avoid all sugar and process foods which depresses the immune system. Opt for warm tea instead of juice (which is high in sugar) to hydrate. Keep the child home to rest, which allows the immune system to work. Take probiotics, like Alkadophilus or Suprema Dophilus, which can boost your immune system. Give Orange Chewable Vitamin-C which can help reduce the length and severity of symptoms. For congestion, put several drops of eucalyptus oil in a warm bath or on a hot washcloth and apply to the face. Provide healthy foods rich in antioxidants, such as smoothies with berries. If you need any other help with your child symptoms please feel free to call the office at (404) 294-5050 and we will help you with your questions.