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Parents Often Puzzled by Medicine Labels
Date:5/26/2009

Study finds that whether a drug is OK for a certain age is often misunderstood,,

TUESDAY, May 26 (HealthDay News) -- The labeling on children's over-the-counter cold medicines can be confusing to parents, a new study has found.

Simpler language and clearer graphics are needed to guide the selection and safe use of the medications, said the study's lead researcher, Dr. Russell Rothman, an assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

"The age indications of over-the-counter pediatric cold and cough products are difficult for caregivers to understand," he said. "These misinterpretations may pose significant hazards to child safety."

In 2007, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advised against the use of over-the-counter cough and cold medications in children younger than 2, and the drug makers voluntarily removed many of the products from the market. Labeling was changed on others.

However, because products intended for kids 4 and older remain on the market, Rothman and his research team decided to test parents' understanding of the information conveyed on labels.

They asked 182 parents to read labels of four over-the-counter cold and cough medicines. The labels were all from products that later were pulled from the market, because they had been labeled for "infant" use. The labels advised consulting a physician if the product was to be used in children 2 years old.

About 86 percent of the time, parents thought that the medicines could be given to children younger than 2, the study found.

In addition, dosing instructions were often not looked at or understood. More than half the time, the parents said they would give these drugs to a 13-month-old child with cold symptoms, even though the label said to consult a physician first.

The parents said they were influenced by pictures of infants, teddy bears and dropper
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