Tuesday, October 7, 2008

No more Baby Sudafed

I support this strongly.

No more cold & cough medicines will be marketed for children under 4. This is a good thing. They just don't work, and they're not as safe as you might think.

I've tried them, though, and I ought to know better. I know that in clinical trials they do no better than placebo, but it's so tempting to just try something, anything, when your baby is sick. I understand; I've been there. But it's better to not even have them around, because people assume they're safe and give too much. Or try two or three things, not realizing that some ingredients overlap and give an accidental overdose. Or toddlers get into them on their own.

So I'm glad.


mandi said...

this is good news. now, i realize that i'm an herb lovin' hippy, but it has always bothered me that parents use meds just to make their kids sleepy. i nannied for a family (both parents were doctors) and they would advise me to give the kids benadryll (sp?) if they couldn't sleep. what?!?

i do know the desperation though- when the baby is sick and can't breathe. so here's what i do (since you asked):
a little flush of saline followed by the nose bulb (booger sucker outer-as we call it)
i put a drop of eucalyptus oil on the nighty and call it a day. it usually works really well.

Mommy, M.D. said...

i have been known to try benadryl for a long car trip. it didn't work though. ; )

the saline & bulb suction is exactly what i recommend.

Mommy, M.D. said...

another word about the saline in the nose:

saline drops are not medicated and can be used as many times a day as you want. but the bulb suction should only be used a couple of times daily. any more than that and it irritates the nose, resulting in swelling which increases congestion.

oh, and babies really, REALLY HATE the saline drops.

but they work.

and while we're on the subject, i feel the same ruling should apply to "natural" and "herbal" remedies marketed for children (i am not talking about mandi's eucalyptus oil on the nighty here; i'm referring mostly to oral medicines). parents are far more likely to overdose those, given the assumption of safety. many of these are safe and effective when used correctly, but not safe in overdose. they are not regulated with the precision of the "real medicine," (big mistake by the FDA, or big victory for the anti-mainstream-medicine lobby, whichever way you want to look at it), and so it can be hard to know if you're actually getting what the package says.

5 Chicks and a Farmer said...

This is such good info. I'm not a fan of these cough meds either, but as a new mom with a daughter who had severe seasonal allergies, I thought they were my only choice. I've since learned other ways of helping my girls when they get runny noses and coughs. They bulb sucker is their nemesis but my best friend.

I do have a question. What's the benefit or difference of a humidifier or vaporizer? Do you recommend them? And when do you use specific ones? I always get this confused. I've known people who use these religiously so I was wondering what your thoughts were.

I think you should do a weekly post about this sort of stuff. I love hearing your insight and perspective as a doctor, mom, and friend.

Mommy, M.D. said...

good question lynsey.

the cool mist vaporizers are sometimes helpful. i never recommend the warm humidifiers, because it's hard to keep them clean and then they spew mold into the air, which is the opposite of helpful. the cool ones add moisture to the air, which is not as helpful in our area as in other places, like arizona. it might be worth a try if the humidity is low. you might see some minor effect for allergies and common colds, not as much as you will for croup.

croup, though. that's your big boy where you will see improvement with a vaporizer. croup is the barky "seal" cough, common in fall & winter. moisture really really helps this. the vaporizer doesn't seem to keep up as well in a large room, but if it's close to the bed it might help. the very best thing is a SHOWER. either put the child in the shower, or just close the bathroom door and sit in the steamy room with them. take in some books and toys and camp out in there.

if your child has allergies or a cold and some congestion, eucalyptus oil does seem to help, like mandi suggested. if you combine that with steam then you've really got something. a few drops in the vaporizer would be helpful. eucalyptus is in a lot of pharmacy products as well, like the stuff you rub on their chest. (that works ok but can irritate the skin.)

for congestion, there is a product called shower soothers that i really love. it's a tablet that you put on the floor of the shower and it releases the eucalyptus into the steam. that will clear a nose in no time. any other way of getting the scent into the shower would work fine, if you can find something that won't just wash down the drain. maybe a few drops on a washcloth.

oh, and fluids. can't forget the fluids. try to get them to drink as much as you can. water is fine, a little diluted juice (not too much sugar), soup (watch the sodium), whatever. even a popsicle will count. you don't need to worry about pedialyte or gatorade or that kind of thing unless there is significant vomiting or diarrhea, then sometimes those can be helpful, in moderation.

Jan said...

That is absolutely crazy!!! So, babies have to suffer through a cold with the runny nose & the coughing, because parents can't be responsible enough to give their child the directed dose & put it away so the child can't get it? My kids are 13 & 15, the 15 year old was always getting a runny nose with the cough from the drainage. If it wouldn't have been for Sudafed the poor child would not have had any relief or sleep. Everytime he tried to lay down he would choke on the drainage. Besides the Sudafed never made them sleepy or hyper, it just made them feel better. I guess choking on snot is much safer than giving them a decongestant. I guarantee you, if any of the adults that had anything to do with this decision had a cold they would buy some cold medicine to make them feel better!!!!

Micheke said...

I agree this is ridiculous. I rarely used decongestants with my children but when I was flying with them gave them one baby sudafed per doctors orders to keep them from screaming in pain throughout the flight because there eustation tubes were about to rupture. How many times to we hear children crying in pain with their ears. But we shouldn't do anything that we know could help them? Hogwash!