PARENTS are now advised not to buy cough and cold medicine off the shelf for their children.
A review conducted by the Therapeutic Goods Administration has decided that cough and cold medicines should only be prescribed for children aged six to 11 and should not be given to children aged below six.
Ballarat MP and parliamentary secretary for health and ageing Catherine King said while the review concluded there are no immediate safety risks with these products, it found there was evidence that they may cause harm to children and that the benefits of using them in children have not been proven.
“Cough and cold medicines offer only temporary relief of common symptoms such as runny nose, cough, nasal congestion, fever and aches. They do not affect the severity of the viral infection or shorten the time the infection lasts.”
Ms King, a mother of a four-year- old, said although there can be temptation to offer temporary relief she prefers not to as it’s not healthy for her child.
NPS MedicineWise head of programs Karen Kaye says that the new advice reflects that the potential for harm from cough and cold medicines in young children outweighs the potential benefits.
“It can be distressing to have a child who has a cough, cold or flu but we have known for some time that there is little evidence for the effectiveness of cough and cold medicines,” Ms Kaye said.
“This is because few clinical trials have proven the effectiveness of cough and cold medicines, particularly in children, but some of the active ingredients in these medicines may cause serious side effects in children, for example seizures or fits.”
Ballarat mother Juliana Addison said she had always avoided giving her two daughters (both under four) medicine after her pharmacist father discouraged her from doing so.