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A top government official has rejected pediatricians’ calls for an immediate ban on over-the-counter cold and cough medications for young kids under the age of six, claiming it might cause unintended harm. Problems with the drugs send thousands of kids to the emergency room each year complaining of hives, drowsiness, trouble walking and many other side effects, the most dangerous being an overdose. At a public hearing, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agreed that they were uncomfortable with the lack of strong data to support the continued use of over-the-counter remedies for children aged two to six. The FDA is scared that a ban on medications for kids might provoke parents to give their children adult medication instead.

Drug companies and the FDA claim over-the-counter cough and cold medications should not be given to children under the age of two, while the American Academy of Pediatrics says these medications should not be given to children under the age of six due to the risk of serious side effects. In January, the agency said they expected to decide in the spring what effect these drugs had on children under the age of eleven. Now, the agency is still seeking advice from doctors, the drug industry and consumers; officials are no longer giving a timetable for their decision.

Americans spend at least $286 million annually on cough and cold remedies for kids. A new report by Boston University found that in any given week, ten percent of the children in the United States are using the medications; the biggest exposure is among two to five year olds. Drug companies claim their drugs are safe, parents need to be educated more to prevent overdoses.

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