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Kids' ER Visits Down After Cold Medicine Withdrawal
Date:11/22/2010

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Three years after nonprescription infant cold medicines were taken off the market, emergency rooms treat less than half as many children under 2 for overdoses and other adverse reactions to the drugs, a new U.S. government study shows.

A voluntary withdrawal of over-the-counter cough and cold medicines for children aged 2 and under took effect in October 2007 because of concerns about potential harm and lack of effectiveness. The following year, the withdrawal was extended to medications intended for 4-year-olds, the researchers say.

"I think it's good that these products were withdrawn, but it's not going to take care of the entire problem," said lead researcher Dr. Daniel S. Budnitz, of the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Since more than two-thirds of these emergency department visits were the result of young children getting into medicines on their own, problems are likely to continue, he said.

The report is published online Nov. 22 in Pediatrics.

For the study, Budnitz's team tracked visits to U.S. hospital emergency departments by children under 12 who were treated for adverse events tied to over-the-counter cold medications in the 14 months before and after the withdrawal.

Although the total number of visits remained the same before and after the withdrawal, among children under 2 these visits dropped from 2,790 to 1,248 -- more than 50 percent, the researchers found.

But, as with emergency department visits before the withdrawal, 75 percent of cases involving cold medications resulted from children taking these drugs while unsupervised.

Whether these emergency department visits involved cough and cold medicines for children or adults isn't known, Budnitz said.

Perhaps some parents are giving their young children cough and
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