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Originally published March 27 2007

Cold medicines harm children's health, charge pediatric doctors

by Christian Evans

The Commissioner of Health for Baltimore, MD and 15 leading pediatric experts have petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to stop drug makers from marketing their products to young children. According to this distinguished group, over-the-counter cough and cold remedies are ineffective in young children and could actually cause more harm than good.

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What you need to know - Conventional View

• Parents of young children are spending billions of dollars on over-the-counter cough and cold remedies each year, according to the Baltimore Sun

• In 2006, the American College of Chest Physicians recommended that cough suppressants and other over-the-counter medications for young children were ineffective and could lead to an "increased risk of complications and death."

• Repeated studies have found the preparations are no more effective in children than placebos, according to the Baltimore Sun

• In some children, unintentional overdoses have caused heart rhythm changes, cardiopulmonary arrest, hallucinations, psychoses, hypertension and seizures.

• "Over-the-counter cough and cold preparations are neither safe nor effective for use in young children," the petitioners argue. "The FDA has never conducted an appropriate analysis to support their widespread use, and expert organizations agree that they are ineffective and pose a risk to health."

• The FDA has not restricted marketing to young children on the grounds that the drugs are "generally recognized as safe and effective.

• "As long as the child is generally healthy, the best thing to do is let the virus run its course, and generally they'll get better as quick or quicker than when they take these medicines," said Dr. Steven J. Czinn, Chairman of Pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

What you need to know - Alternative View

Statements and opinions by Mike Adams, executive director of the Consumer Wellness Center

• The marketing of cold medicines to children is yet another example of the medical industry exploiting the bodies of young consumers with unproven -- even harmful -- chemicals that have never undergone adequate safety testing.

• Cold medicines for children are often loaded with chemical sweeteners and other artificial ingredients that can actually be harmful to a child's health.

Bottom line

Over-the-counter cough and cold remedies do not help children and actually may put them at risk.

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