Cold and cough remedies that we leave around the home could be a lot more dangerous than we realise. A new report estimates that around 7,000 children in America need emergency hospital care every year after drinking one of the over-the-counter concoctions.
In most cases, the children had taken too much, usually because they've just happened to find a bottle in the bathroom cabinet when no parents were around.
But in around 26 per cent of cases, the parents had given the proper dose, and had rushed the child to hospital after he or she had been unusually sleepy afterwards or had suffered an allergic reaction.
America's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated the figures after sampling emergency admissions at 63 hospitals across the US.
CDC researchers are concerned that the message about these cold and cough remedies isn't being heeded by parents. Study after study has established that the remedies are completely ineffectual, but still parents buy them. "If these medications are removed from the market, caregivers may be tempted to substitute products that are labelled for use by older children and adults," the CDC report says.
Options could be the introduction of better child-safety bottles, or at least putting the bottles out of sight and reach. Best of all, says the CDC, parents should stop taking medication in front of the children.
Now they're just going too far.
(Source: Reuter's, January 28, 2008).