Young Children at Risk from Cough and Cold Medicines

Ingestion leads to 7,000 emergency department visits each year in the United States

TUESDAY, Jan. 29 (HealthDay News) -- More than 7,000 children under age 12 are rushed to U.S. emergency departments each year after ingesting cough and cold medicines, usually after doing so without parental supervision, and children aged 2 to 5 may be at special risk, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study published online Jan. 28 in Pediatrics.

Melissa K. Schaefer, M.D., of the CDC's Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion in Atlanta, and colleagues reviewed 2004-2005 data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System -- Cooperative Adverse Drug Event Surveillance (NEISS-CADES) project, a nationally stratified probability sample of 63 hospitals in the United States and its territories.

The researchers report that an estimated 7,091 children under age 12 require emergency treatment each year after ingesting cough and cold medicines, with children aged 2 to 5 accounting for 64 percent of this group. They also estimated that medicine ingestion without parental supervision accounts for 66 percent of these emergency department visits, and that more than three-quarters of such visits (77 percent) involve children aged 2 to 5.

"Parents need to be vigilant about keeping these medicines out of their children's reach," Denise Cardo, M.D., director of CDC's Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, said in a statement. "They should refrain from encouraging children to take medicine by telling the children that medication is candy" and adults should also avoid taking adult medications in front of young children.

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