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Infant Cold and Cough Medicines

Question of the Week


Updated May 20, 2014

Doctor checking crying baby heartbeat on bed
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Q. I have a 7 week old son that has a cold. I took him to the doctor. He has a cough and the doctor didn't tell me what I could give him for his cough, so i was concerned if there is anything I could give him for his cough. Please help me. Gallup, N.M

A. In general, most Pediatricians would be against giving such a young infant an over-the-counter cough and cold medication. Some believe that they simply don't work and others are concerned that the risk of side effects is simply too high.

The FDA has even issued a public health advisory about children's cold medicines saying that "questions have been raised about the safety of these products and whether the benefits justify any potential risks from the use of these products in children, especially in children under 2 years of age."

Keep in mind that according to the FDA, most problems with cold medicines occur when "more than the recommended amount is used, if it is given too often, or if more than one cough and cold medicine containing the same active ingredient are being used."

However, most infant cold medicines have now been taken off the market.

And because of your child's age, it would still be best to talk with your Pediatrician before giving any cold medicine to your child, even if they are available without a prescription.

Other home treatments for an infant's cough and runny nose that might be helpful include using saline nasal drops in your child's nose and then suctioning them out to help clear his nasal passages. A cool mist humidifier might also help if your child is very congested.

And again, if he is getting worse or is not getting better, has trouble breathing, fever, is very irritable, is too sleepy, or isn't eating, you should call your Pediatrician for more help and advice.

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