But Shannon remains concerned. "These drugs interact with other drugs. These drugs have exaggerated effects on children who have other illnesses," he said.
And nothing conquers the common cold, he added.
"We have to accept the fact that there are no real treatments for the cold," Shannon said. "It's a mistake to think that there are medications that are really going to make a cold go away sooner or make the child feel much better. Medication for fever works, but these medications for cough suppression do not treat the common cold."
Another expert agreed with Shannon.
"Colds take a lot of time to nurture, and the medicines don't really speed up that process at all," said Catherine Tom-Revzon, the clinical pharmacy manager at Children's Hospital at Montefiore in New York City.
Tom-Revzon believes that rather than risking potential harm from these medications, it's better to remove them from the market.
For children with colds, Tom-Revzon recommends giving lots of fluids, using a misting humidifier and putting an extra pillow under the child's head to help drain fluids. "If the child has a high fever and doesn't want to eat or drink, something more serious may be going on, and the child should be brought to the doctor," she said.
An FDA review of records filed with the agency between 1969 and September 2006 found 54 reports of deaths in children associated with decongestant medicines made with pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine or ephedrine. It also found 69 reports of deaths associated with antihistamine medicines containing diphenhydramine, brompheniramine or chlorpheniramine.
Most of the deaths involved children younger than 2.
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