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Government warns against OTC cold medications

If you have young children, the government has an important warning for you: don't give them over-the-counter cold-and-cough medicine. The new finding is preliminary, based on evidence the drugs are ineffective and may be dangerous. When Josslyn Goldner's son Max was sick recently she gave him the usual dosage of over-the-counter medicine. It sent him to the emergency room. Because of cases like that a new report from the FDA says cold and cough drugs should be banned in young children. FDA safety experts said they would recommend "no level" of decongestant dosage for children under the age of two "due to the lack of evidence of efficacy and safety concerns." ABC News Medical Editor Dr. Timothy Johnson said, "Be very, very careful about using these products under age two. There are no studies about dosing, your physician has no good information on them." An FDA review found 54 reported deaths from decongestants and 69 deaths from antihistamines -- mostly in children under the age of two. And a CDC report found that more than 1,500 toddlers and babies wound up in emergency rooms over a two-year period because of the drugs. While insisting the drugs are safe, the industry itself now agrees on a ban for young children. Linda Suydam with the Consumer Healthcare Products Association said, "Parents should not use these products for children under two." The warnings -- and the real life health scare -- have parents like Goldner being much more careful about how they treat their sick children. Goldner said, "I'm trying to be a little bit more selective and proactive and not assume that companies that are in the business to make money are going to actually be worrying so much about my child." An FDA panel will meet to discuss a possible ban on the medicines later this month.

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