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Misuse of Vicks VapoRub may harm infants and toddlers
Date:1/12/2009

Vicks VapoRub, the popular salve used to relieve symptoms of cough and congestion, may be harmful for infants and toddlers. New research appearing in the January issue of CHEST, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), shows that Vicks VapoRub (VVR) may stimulate mucus production and airway inflammation, which can have severe effects on breathing in an infant or toddler. Research findings are consistent with current VVR labeling which indicates the product should not be used on children under 2 years of age.

"The ingredients in Vicks can be irritants, causing the body to produce more mucus to protect the airway," said Bruce K. Rubin, MD, FCCP, the study's lead author from the Department of Pediatrics at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston Salem, NC. "Infants and young children have airways that are much narrower than those of adults, so any increase in mucus or inflammation can narrow them more severely."

Dr. Rubin and his colleagues at Wake Forest became interested in the effects of VVR on small children after they cared for an 18-month-old girl who developed severe respiratory distress after VVR was put directly under her nose. The research team then launched an investigation to determine the effects of VVR on the respiratory system. Using ferrets, which have an airway anatomy and cellular composition similar to humans, the team conducted tests that measured the effects of VVR on mucus secretion and build up in the airways, and fluid build up in the lungs. Healthy ferrets and ferrets who had induced tracheal inflammation (simulating a person with a chest infection) underwent testing after they were exposed to VVR through intubation.

Results showed that in vitro VVR exposure increased mucus secretion 59 percent over baseline, while in vivo VVR exposure increased mucus secretion 14 percent in normal airways and 8 percent in the inflamed airway, in addition to the increase in
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Contact: Jennifer Stawarz
jstawarz@chestnet.org
847-498-8306
American College of Chest Physicians
Source:Eurekalert

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