About one in five children under the age of six years continues to take medications against colds and coughs, despite the advice of Health Canada, says a study.
In October 2009, the federal department mandated the inscription “Do not use in children under six years” on all drug packages against colds and coughs available OTC and for young children.
According to Health Canada, these products contain active ingredients that can be not only ineffective but also potentially dangerous for preschoolers.
One study, however, seems to show that many parents do not take this warning seriously.
Researchers compared data on the use of these remedies reported a year before October 2009 and almost two years later. The use fell by only four percentage points, from 22% to 18%.
These statistics tell the principal author of the study, a pediatrician and researcher at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto Jonathon Maguire, that the change of labeling on drug packaging is probably not enough to convince parents to give up their habits.
“I think parents just do not know they are not supposed to use these products in young children,” he argued.
Mr. Maguire explained that there was no scientific evidence confirming that these remedies or reduce the duration of cold symptoms.
These products – which usually contain antihistamines, decongestants and cough suppressants – can cause side effects such as heart palpitations or increased blood pressure.
Overdose can even cause convulsions and coma.
The study, which was published Wednesday in the Canadian Journal of Public Health, examines the cases of about 1100 children aged one to five years who were followed in Toronto.