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Parents Confused About Use of Cold Medication in Infants

Study finds most parents think it is okay to give cold medications to infants younger than 2 years

TUESDAY, May 26 (HealthDay News) -- Most parents and caregivers of infants under 2 years old would give over-the-counter (OTC) cold medications to their children despite a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) caution to use the products only with children 2 or older, according to a study in the June issue of Pediatrics.

Nicole Lokker, of the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison, and colleagues recruited 182 caregivers of children no more than 1 year old (over 96 percent were parents, 87 percent were mothers) from three clinics, showed them the labels of four common OTC child cold medications and administered a survey to determine their understanding of the recommended use and age indication for the products.

The researchers found that 86 percent of the time caregivers believed the products were appropriate for use in children under 2 years of age, and more than 50 percent of the time, parents said they would give the OTC medication to a 13-month-old child. Researchers said the influencing factors included the word "infant" on the label, graphic images suggesting infancy, and dosing directions.

"Misunderstanding of OTC cold products is common and could result in harm if medications are given inappropriately. Label language and graphics seem to influence inappropriate interpretation of OTC product age indications. Poorer parental numeracy skills may increase the misinterpretation of these products. Opportunities exist for the FDA and manufacturers to revise existing labels to improve parental comprehension and enhance child safety," the authors conclude.

Two of the study authors reported financial relationships with Pfizer Inc. through the Pfizer Clear Health Communication Initiative.

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