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Substances in over-the-counter drugs may be dangerous for babies

otcdrugs.jpgRemember those reports by the Philadelphia Medical Examiners Office about 15 infantile deaths which might be related to cold and cough medications? It is well-known that pseudoephedrine is one of those drugs to be wary of. However, other active ingredients in many over-the-counter medications may be involved as well. These substances are dextromethorphan, acetaminophen, brompheniramine, carbinoxamine, chlorpheniramine, ethanol, doxylamine, phenobarbital, and phenytoin. All of these may be found in the common cold drops you can buy almost anywhere. In addition, acetaminophen, also called paracetamol, is present many anti-fever medications. Phenobarbital and phenytoin are anticonvulsants used to manage epileptic seizures.

The report concludes that the giving OTC cold and cough medications to babies may actually be unsafe and potentially fatal. Parents, as well as doctors, should therefore, be extra careful when using these drugs in very young patients.

Wingert WE, Mundy LA, Collins GL, Chmara ES. Possible role of pseudoephedrine and other over-the-counter cold medications in the deaths of very young children. J Forensic Sci. 2007 Mar;52(2):487-90.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Infant deaths associated with cough and cold medications–two states, 2005. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2007 Jan 12;56(1):1-4.

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