Cough Remedies: Warning Labels Reduce Children’s ER Visits

Warning Labels Cough Remedies

Cough remedy warning labels may have significantly reduced emergency room visits among young children. A study published by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention suggests clear warning labels help caretakers give children the correct dosage, which prevents adverse reactions.

In 2007, numerous cold and cough remedies were voluntarily recalled by medicine manufacturers. The recall was prompted by reports that more children were visiting emergency rooms with adverse reactions. The medications were re-released in 2008 with warning labels that were easier to read and understand.

Prior to the recall, cold and cough medication accounted for four percent of drug-related ER visits in children age 2 and younger. Following the label change, the number has dropped to two percent.

As reported by CBS News, the same results were seen in children aged 2 to 3. Prior to 2008, cold and cough remedies were blamed for 10 percent of emergency room visits. The number was reduced to seven percent when the labels were changed.

Dr. Lee Hampton, who lead the study, said the results are encouraging. In addition to the labeling, the CDC encouraged educational campaigns to raise awareness about potential risks. The labels, educational materials, and the media attention have encouraged caregivers to administer the medications with caution.

Although the numbers are encouraging for younger children, children between the ages of 4 and 11 are still being dosed incorrectly. In fact, the CDC study revealed an increase in misuse for children aged 4 and 5.

Unfortunately, unsupervised ingestion remains a serious issue. Dr. Hampton explained that a majority of children who are treated for adverse reactions have consumed the cough and cold medication without adult supervision.

Dr. Bradley Berg of Round Rock Pediatrics said younger children are specifically at-risk:

“The highest number of unsupervised ingestions was in 2- to 3-year-olds. These are kids that are beginning to be mobile and may start climbing and getting into more… these medications are sweet and good-tasting. This is the age group that parents really need to be monitoring,”

Doctors suggest keeping cough remedies out of sight and reach of children. They also discourage administering cough and cold medication to children under 4 without a doctor’s approval.

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