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Cough syrups can harm infants

There could be serious side effects among infants and children who are given over-the-counter cough medicines, a study says.

health-and-fitness Updated: May 21, 2008, 14:34 IST

Many parents use cough medicine for children younger than two -though it is neither recommended nor effective for kids this young, according to a new study.

Alarmingly, the University of Melbourne study of 325 parents at clinics found an overwhelming 98 percent had used over-the-counter medication for children aged 0-24 months.

The study, by Misel Trajanovska, found that paracetamol was the drug most commonly used by parents for their children (95.9 percent), while almost half (42.8 percent) had given their children cough and cold medicines containing anti-histamines.

As many as 47.3 percent had given their children teething gels, while nearly all parents had used over-the-counter medications to combat pain and fever. Some seven percent used medicines to “induce sleep or settle their child”, or because they were “cranky”.

“Internationally, there have been a number of reports of serious side effects among infants and children given over-the-counter cough medicines,” Trajanovska was quoted as saying by ScienceAlert.

“There is also a lack of evidence that these medicines are even effective for treating coughs,” she added.

Trajanovska said the survey's findings reinforced the need for continued education of parents about the safe use of over-the-counter medicines.

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