Doctors Say No to Kids' Cold Medicine

ByABC News via logo
October 28, 2006, 9:08 AM

Oct. 28, 2006 — -- Cough and cold season is here, and the American Academy of Pediatrics is doling out some advice that might surprise parents: Don't give kids cold medicine.

In addition, Baltimore's health commissioner is warning parents not to give children 5-years old and younger over-the-counter cough and cold medications designed for children.

Dr. David Levy, from the American Academy of Pediatrics, sat down with "Good Morning America Weekend Edition's" Kate Snow to talk about medicines to avoid, and why.

"We're talking about all children's cough and cold medicines," Levy said. "They're drugs that contain dextromethorpan and diphenhydramine. You would see them marked as 'dm' or 'dph.' The drugs typically include combinations of antihistamines, cough suppressants and decongestants."

Several studies show that these medicines are ineffective in children. They can potentially cause side effects that could lead to more serious symptoms.

Levy said parents shouldn't avoid medication at all costs. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used to help a child with a fever. But children can recover from a cold without medicine as a crutch.

"Fluids are really important," Levy said. "You'll also want to moisturize the air through a vaporizer or hydrator. Also, you can use salt water nose drops. They're in drug stores. And for little kids who can't blow their nose by themselves, you can use a rubber nose bulb. And finally -- there have been plenty of studies to back this up -- you want to try some chicken soup. It actually works. Finally, you really should consult your pediatrician."

Preventing illness is key. Levy advises that children under 5-years old get flu vaccines. Keeping hands clean is also critical. And if children are sick, keep them at home so they don't spread a virus to kids in school.