Big “No duh!” at the latest reports that pulling cough and cold medicines led to a significant drop in children’s ER visits resulting from bad reactions to the drugs.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which led the study, ER visits for children dropped by more than half–from 2,790 visits to 1,248–following the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) warning against using the medication.

In 2007, manufacturers of cough and cold medicines voluntarily withdrew their products, mostly syrups, following complaints from pediatricians that the medications don’t work in young kids and posed a safety risk because of accidental overdoses causing extreme drowsiness, increased heart rate and even some deaths.

For the study, CDC researchers compared nonfatal ER visits in children younger than 2 with bad reactions to cough and cold medicines in the 14 months before the withdrawal and in the 14 months afterward.

On the down side, two-thirds of children’s ER visits, both before and after the withdrawal, resulted from children taking medications on their own.  It is likely due to parents having not thrown out old medications and possibly leaving them easily accessible.

According to one ER physician at Chicago’s Children’s Memorial Hospital, Dr. Elizabeth Powell, many parents felt helpless following the removal of cough and cold meds from drugstore’s shelves.  Powell states that it is not uncommon for parents to bring babies with stuffy noses and other cold symptoms to the ER for help, but that there isn’t much that can done for them there.

Sigh…parents, let your kids fight off their colds on their own.  Can’t we just resist the temptation to save our kids from any and every discomfort they encounter?  Geez.  Try, at least.  This is where our parents had it wayyyyy above us–they didn’t have a crutch for every challenge thrown into their laps.  When we got sick–bed, soup, TV, mama–that was it.

Next time you find yourself jonesing for the Robitussin for junior, think back to the time when you were walking to school barefoot in the snow…uphill both ways.  That’ll remind you that you did just fine without cough and cold medicine.  Your kids’ will, too.  Promise.

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One Response to ER Visits Down Following Children’s Cold Medicine Removal

  1. Kyle says:

    I just finished reading your recent post about ER visits being down after children’s cold medicine was pulled off the shelves. I must agree this should not come as much of a surprise to anyone given the safety risk involved with children’s cough medicine. You also raised a terrific point and one that all should parents should heed to is the fact that 2/3 of those hospital visits resulted from children taking the medication on their own. While there might be danger associated with taking cough syrup, I think this should also call attention to the fact that the major reason this is an issue is not the medication but rather parenting.

    I also agreed with your take on how parents need to quit hitting the panic button every time little Johnny or Jackie coughs or sneezes. The last paragraph of your post was a call to action that parents really should be paying attention to.

    I’d like to recommend this video to you from It analyzes what the health media is saying about this cough syrup controversy and I think you will find a few sources quoted in this video agree with your sentiment on the issue. Hope you consider embedding the video somewhere in your post and I enjoyed reading the post.

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