(NaturalNews) Although nearly all parents have heard the warnings against giving over-the-counter (OTC) cold and cough medicines to young children, nearly two-thirds of them are still doing so, according to a study conducted by researchers from Harris Interactive and funded by the herbal pharmaceutical company Bionorica.
"It's very concerning to me that so many parents are still giving their children these OTC cough and cold products with the possible associated dangers and the question of their effectiveness in children," said family physician Marcela Dominguez of Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center.
OTC cold and cough medicines have never been tested in young children, and there is no evidence that they work in that age group. The risk of side effects is well documented, however, and these medications are a common cause of emergency room visits in children.
In January 2008, the FDA issued a Public Health Advisory warning that the drugs should not be used in children under the age of two. The British Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency does not recommend their use in children under the age of six.
Ninety percent of parents and 84 percent of the general public surveyed said they had heard about at least some of the dangers associated with the use of OTC cold and cough drugs in children, and had heard about their uncertain effectiveness. Among parents who had heard of the concerns, however, 62 percent said they were continuing to give the drugs to their children.
Of those who had heard of the warnings about use of the drugs in young children, 70 percent said they had gotten their information from the Internet or other media sources. Fewer than 50 percent had heard about the issue from their doctors or from acquaintances.
"While the news media can be a good source of information for the public, information on the Internet is not always reliable nor should it replace the patient/physician dialogue," said pharmacologist Narinder Duggal of the University of Washington. "It's alarming to me that so few people talk to their doctors about the effectiveness and dangers of health products before they take them or give them to their children."