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Mum and Dad

FDA: No kid should take opioids for cough, cold


Claudia Boyd-Barrett

posted in Parenting

Do not give your kids cough or cold medicine containing codeine or hydrocodone.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced it will require new, stricter labeling for prescription cough and cold medications that contain these ingredients. The labels will state that the medicines should not be given to any children or teens under age 18.

Codeine and hydrocodone are opioids. Side effects can include drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headaches, constipation and difficulty breathing. Exposure to opioids can also lead to future addiction, overdose and even death, the FDA said. The new labels will warn adults about these risks also.

“Given the epidemic of opioid addiction, we’re concerned about unnecessary exposure to opioids, especially in young children,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. “It’s become clear that the use of prescription, opioid-containing medicines to treat cough and cold in children comes with serious risks that don’t justify their use in this vulnerable population.”


The new labeling requirements tighten earlier demands issued by the FDA. Last year, the agency ruled that prescription medicines containing codeine or tramadol should carry warnings that they not be given to children under 12. Drugs with opioid ingredients should also not be given to children under 12 following surgery to have their tonsils or adenoids removed, the FDA cautioned in 2013.

Children do not need codeine or hydrocodone to treat coughs and colds, the agency said. In fact, coughs or colds caused by an upper respiratory infection will often get better on their own, the FDA stated.

If your child has already been prescribed a cough or cold medicine containing codeine or hydrocodone, the FDA recommends you consult your doctor about other treatment options.

And be careful to read the label of over-the counter cough and cold medicines too as in some states these may also contain codeine.

Has your child ever been prescribed medicine containing opioids? What did you do?

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