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Originally published May 15 2009

Don't Give Children Cough and Cold Medicines, Warn Health Watchdogs

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) The United Kingdom's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued new guidelines advising parents not to prescribe over-the-counter cold and cough medicines to children under the age of six, and placing stricter restrictions on their sale.

"Coughs and colds can be distressing for both you and your child but they will get better by themselves within a few days. Using simple measures to ease symptoms is likely to be most effective," said MHRA Director of Vigilance and Risk Management of Medicines June Raine. "Over-the-counter medicines used to treat coughs and colds have been used for many years. However, they came into use when clinical trials were not required to demonstrate that they worked in children. This means they were not specially designed for children."

Although cold and cough medications have been tested in adults, there is no evidence that they work in young children. Potentially dangerous side effects, on the other hand, have been well documented. Therefore parents are advised not to give their young children any product containing antihistamines, antitussives (anti-cough), expectorants or nasal decongestants. Under no circumstances should the drugs be given to a child under the age of two.

"It is not right to assume safety and efficacy based on children being small adults," Raine said. "Children should have access to medicines that are acceptably safe and designed for their use."

In the United Kingdom, all cough and cold products marketed to children under the age of six will be phased out. Products for children between the ages of six and 12 will remain available, but must be purchased directly from a pharmacist.

The MHRA recommends that parents worried about colds and coughs in their younger children use natural remedies such as honey and lemon for a cough and saline drops for nasal congestion. If symptoms do not improve after five days, a doctor should be consulted.

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